Taylor Bailey, an Oshawa resident who cares deeply for his hometown, is sleeping in the cold in solidarity with those who don’t have a home.
Bailey recently set up a tent in his front yard with the message, “In support of the homeless to help the movement pitch a tent in your front yard.”
Speaking to The Oshawa Express, Bailey explained his original plan was to get 50 to 200 people to camp outside of city hall in a peaceful protest.
“But, I thought that’s pretty invasive, and it could get out of control,” explains Bailey. “Even if it didn’t, a lot of people couldn’t do that because they’ve got jobs and other [responsibilities], but they could still participate by putting one on their front lawn.”
Bailey explains for two months he was trying to get a hold of Mayor Dan Carter, but hasn’t had any luck yet, noting Carter is “a busy guy.”
“One night, at 1 a.m., I woke up out of a deep sleep just saying, ‘I have to do something right now,’” he explains. “So I went down to my basement, grabbed my tent, threw it up on my front lawn…, and I thought, I’m going to take it a step further and sleep in it so I can get a glimpse of what these people go through.”
Sleeping in the tent hasn’t been easy, according to Bailey, who adds he got sick and had to take a break.
“It was perfect timing because [a recent] wind storm was tearing it apart anyway.”
He’s healed up now, and he says he is sleeping in it again.
Bailey admits despite the temperatures being above zero, he still felt freezing while sleeping outside.
He points out the tent idea has begun to catch on and another family has set up a tent in their front yard as well, but aren’t sleeping in it.
“They’re just doing it for awareness,” he says.
Bailey is hoping for more residents to participate.
While he has seen a positive reaction to his tent, Bailey notes it hasn’t been entirely positive feedback.
“They either love it or they hate it,” he says.
He explains some of his neighbours have had a difficult time with it.
“The police [and city] were called… and once I explained to [them], they actually really loved the idea and they supported it [although not in an official capacity,” he explains.
On a more positive note, Bailey says some people have stopped and taken photos, as they love the idea.
“Even people started to drop flowers, water and food here for those homeless people,” he says with a smile.
Bailey excitedly notes actor Will Smith has teamed up with the World’s Big Sleep Out campaign, and is calling for people in 50 major cities across the world to have a “sleep out” in their downtown cores on Saturday, Dec. 7.
A notable event in New York will see people sleeping out in Times Square.
Bailey hopes to do something similar in Oshawa, and is extending an invitation to Smith’s son, Jaden, who will be performing in Toronto on Dec. 3, to come to Oshawa and do the same as his father.
For those interested in seeing Bailey’s tent, he is located at 175 Park Rd. N.