A Better Tent City (ABTC) is a community working to raise awareness around homelessness in Waterloo Region and tackle homelessness in practical ways. It started during the COVID-19 pandemic as a safe place for people to bring their tents. Since then, the community has evolved into more than 50 residents with two dozen insulated tiny homes. The site offers access to warm shelter, washrooms, and laundry. More than that — it offers community. A place to keep belongings, and feel safe at night. Unlike traditional shelters, residents at ABTC have privacy, can live with a partner, or have a pet. ABTC is not a permanent solution, but a pause and an opportunity to ultimately find access to permanent housing, at which time their tiny home is then offered to another resident.
From June to September 2021, with the support of local businesses in Belmont Village and Uptown Waterloo we collected funds to build 3 tiny homes including operation costs.
meet the residents
Diana was born in Canada, to parents of Jamaican heritage. She lived in Toronto before moving to Cambridge, and about ten years ago she ended up here in Kitchener. She has a 12-year old daughter named Ocean who she had to give up for adoption. Diana hasn’t seen her ever since but is optimistic that ‘they’re together in spirit!” She enjoys her freedom at A Better Tent City and claims it’s sometimes hard to sleep at night when people outside are being loud. She’s not complaining and accepts that they’re all living here as a family.
Originally from North Bay, Trevor wanted to get away from his family and experience something new which brought him and his wife here to Kitchener four years ago. They used to live in a tent, until it collapsed under the weight of the snow and they ended up moving to a tiny home at A Better Tent City. Two year ago Trevor found out he has stage 3 cancer. He was told he had 12 months to live. 24 months later, he is now in stage 4. There are certain days he feels better than others. On the worst of days, he is not able to get out of bed. Trevor is the handyman of the community. He repairs, fixes things up and helps wherever he can. His younger brother is now living here to help him through his illness – the only family that he has and also someone he cares very much about.