WINCHESTER – Homelessness isn’t as black and white and crystal clear as you might think it is.

When one thinks about a homeless person, people usually think of someone in dirty clothes, sleeping on the side of the road. However, there are different layers that define what homelessness is.

From Wed., July 18 to Tues., July 24, the Housing Division of the Social and Housing Services Department has taken a homelessness enumeration throughout Cornwall, Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry. Homelessness enumeration is a count of the minimum number of people who are experiencing some type of homelessness in a community over a specific period of time.

These types of homelessness could include unsheltered; sleeping in public spaces or places not intended for human habitation, emergency sheltered; accessing emergency shelters, or provisional accommodation; living in temporary accommodations with no guarantee that they can continue to stay there. Mario Bissonnette and Carol MacDonald of the 2018 homelessness enumeration team came to Winchester Food Share Mon., July 23 to conduct surveys on homelessness in the community.

Mario Bissonnette (left) and Carol MacDonald of the 2018 homelessness enumeration team have gone through the SD&G counties to conduct surveys on the seriousness of homelessness in each community. Press Photo – Glover

“What we’re trying to do is, the province is trying to get a count of homelessness issues in the area and why they are homeless,” said Bissonnette. “We’re doing this by asking a general questionnaire of their life choices and what their arrangements have been.”

Bissonnette and MacDonald have been going through the local counties like Chesterville, Finch and Morrisburg. Bissonnette said that out of the 30 surveys they conducted, 12 were defined as homeless.

“To us, homelessness is not just living on the streets, “ he said. “It could be couch surfing, going from motel to motel, or even apartment to apartment within the month. It’s all about moving too often.”

A full summary of the information gathered from the enumeration will be available to the public March 31, 2019. These results will include which of these people have families to support, are disabled, have debts, are unsheltered, emergency sheltered or provisionally accommodated.