It’s a Thursday morning in a parking lot tucked away against the side of a church near Centennial Gardens Park in St. Catharines, next to a ravine cluttered with pop cans and other debris, with an infestation of wasps in the ground.
Cheryl sits by her shopping cart containing a sleeping bag and coat, next to a milk carton filled with water bottles, snacks and an unused syringe. Beside her is Darrell, a man with partially healed wounds on his nose and right cheek who, like Cheryl, is homeless.
The day is heating up as outreach workers with the Niagara Assertive Street Outreach (NASO) team arrive to check on Cheryl, Darrell and a handful of other homeless people who are calling the parking lot home, for now.
The outreach workers, who work for different Niagara agencies that have partnered under NASO to provide what’s been described as an unprecedented effort to aggressively attack pervasive homelessness in the region, asked that only their first names be used for security reasons.
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