Cleanup conundrum: What to do with homeless’s stuff?

first_imgAs the number of people living outside grows, so does their need for storage. Regular cleanups around Share House, the men’s homeless shelter in downtown Vancouver, have amassed a lot of trash but also things that people want to keep.Backpacks, bikes, sleeping bags, pads and shopping carts are the types of things locked inside eight blue containers that the city of Vancouver rents from Waste Connections. The metal containers are kept on city-owned property on the west side. Each container, which can hold between 30 and 40 cubic yards, is labeled with the date its contents were collected from homeless encampments.The city is legally obligated to store personal property for 60 days before it can be thrown away. People have to make an appointment to get reunited with their stuff.On Thursday morning, after the most recent cleanup around Share House, Calvin Chastang had his stuff piled near Lincoln Place, an apartment complex for formerly homeless people. He said he’s been living outside in the area for about two years. He said he has given stuff to the city to store three times and has successfully retrieved things once. He described the stuff he’s lost as amenities rather than necessities. Chastang knows that the city wants homeless people to have only what they can carry, but it’s those extra non-essentials — camp stoves, lawn chairs and buckets, for instance — that make life outside easier.He thinks the storage system could be improved if it better resembled baggage claim at the airport, perhaps with a more sophisticated system for numbering and labeling stuff.last_img