Designed against

Today the class walked through the Byward Market paying particular attention to security features (cameras, fences, visual lines), the presence of officers (police, private security), and architectural or environmental design elements that deter people from sitting, lying or loitering.
IMG_1834 The Park benches have bars on them so that people can’t lay down and sleep on them. – Emma, Alex, Holly and Paul

Park benches were designed to keep homeless off the bench so they don’t sleep. Also, people (homeless people) wont’ be able to take up the entire park bench. – Olivia, Reese



IMG_5832There are beautiful paintings on the stairs which draws many admirers.
Since stairs are usually a place for the homeless to sleep on, they
may go onto these stairs to sleep. Tourists take pictures of the
stairs and if they find a few homeless people sleeping on the stairs,
blocking the paintings they may get mad and argue with the homeless.
These homeless who just wanted a place to sleep end up getting yelled
at and being in unwanted pictures. They may also not want to be
tripped over from people walking on the stairs while they’re sleeping.
– Madison, Tommy, Shikshita


Ground level

Today the class spent time in the Byward Market, seeing where people who are homeless can seek shelter or find a meal. In pairs, students also spent five minutes sitting on the sidewalk – experiencing dirty looks or, most commonly, how passers-by purposefully averted their eyes to avoid looking at them. Students talked about feeling embarrassed, uncomfortable and nervous during their five minutes – they also talked how even that brief experience has changed how they view panhandlers and street-involved people they encounter.

Different faces of homelessness


Things we didn’t know:

  • That if you were LGBT you have a bigger chance of being homeless.
  • Such a little amount of youth make it into shelters
  • Most homeless people don’t know where the homeless shelters are located
  • The numbers of homeless youth are slowly increasing.
  • You can’t enter a homeless shelter if you are high.
  • If you don’t pay child support to your ex-spouse you could get your drivers license taken away.
  • A lot of families are disowning their children.

Maya, Reese and Sean


  • Divorce is a huge cost and causes homelessness, child support failures
  • Universities, schools, debt cause family homelessness
  • Welfare failures, for example a mother with many children does not receive economic support
  • 30% of homeless youth are LGBT and this is because their families don’t accept them and kick them out
  • At shelters many families are separated for space.

Samarth, Tommy, Shikshita, Madison, Hanna


  • In 2015, there were 2,972 single adult men and 915 single adult women who are homeless.
  • Single men are most likely to be homeless.
  • Divorce is one of the biggest causes of homelessness
  • Some homeless shelters can be unsafe because people can be harmed physically and or/sexually
  • One not commonly known reason for homelessness is violence against youth, particularly towards girls and young women.

Emma, Olivia, Holly, Alex, Mariam


  • 40% of all seniors living alone are poor.
  • 45.6% of all women living alone are poor.
  • 32.8% of all men living alone are poor.
  • Most common factors leading to homelessness include illness and mental illness, drugs, alcohol, forgetting to pay rent or file taxes, or their families don’t want to take care of them.
  • Most of these factors are not preventative.
  • Most of the senior homeless population are part of the ‘absolute homeless’

Malin, Ela, Paul, Maddy, Abby


Class activity – Teams competed to guess a secret word or phrase using only a teammate’s drawing. There were 10 rounds (words like soup kitchen, police officer, cardboard). After the activity, teams chose a favourite picture and wrote a description about it.

Team 1

20160502_094314Sleeping bag

This picture represents how something as small as a sleeping bag can save someone from frostbite, pneumonia and saying warm. Things like this should be taken out of our basement and donated to those who need it the most. This picture also demonstrates how easily a person could end up in a sleeping bag instead of a real bed. For some people a simple sleeping can be a part of reality and survival.


Team 2


Park bench

  • Someplace to sleep
  • Only/most accessible ‘bed’
  • Stereotypically linked with the homeless community
  • Are often kicked off several times
  • Anybody has access
  • In some cases, it’s the best place that can be found

Team 3

IMG_2065Park bench

  • Symbolizes where homeless people might spend the night
  • They are cold in the winter and hot in the summer
  • Could act as a bed/home for someone
  • People sleeping on park benches could get in the way of other people.


Team 4


It works with and against us. For people who can afford to live in homes, apartments ro mansions it works with them. For people less fortunate, who don’t have a home, food or a warm bed, the law works against them most of the time. Fines for sleeping on a bench, for staying in one place for too long. It is our law, so why can’t it help all of us?


Team 5

IMG_2109This drawing, created on May 2nd by the fantastic artist Tommy Schnarr symbolizes the homless people of Ottawa going to a homeless shelter for free food. This was sold for $39,999.42 to Paul Mullay.



Thank you to everyone who came to orientation today!

Here is the week’s schedule:

  • Monday: Understanding homelessness
  • Tuesday: Field Trip – Byward Market & Operation Come Home
  • Wednesday: Legislating homelessness
  • Thursday: Field Trip – Ottawa Ticket Defence Program
  • Friday: Responding to homelessness

Every morning the class will meet at 9:00 in Patterson (PA) room 101.

It was great to see everyone’s responses to the Poll Everywhere question. Looks like we are starting from a place a good understanding.


EMCP 230 Homelessness: What’s law got to do with it?

Course description

(Credit: Anton Oparin via Shutterstock)

Should someone be fined for sleeping on a park bench? Should they go to jail for begging? In this course we’ll look at how law directly and indirectly impacts people who are homeless. We will cover laws and legislation ranging from Ottawa’s Shopping Cart Bylaw to federal and provincial Safe Streets Acts. You’ll learn how to look critically at ‘the law’ and think about how law impacts people living in extreme poverty. We’ll also look at how laws are enforced, and talk to people advocating for people who are homeless. You can expect to be challenged to rethink stereotypes about people who are homeless, and to get out of the classroom and be actively involved in understanding homelessness in a whole new way.

Follow this website to see what EMCP students learn about homelessness and the law!