**** HRM Media Release
Municipality continues collaboration to help address homelessness in the Halifax region
The Halifax Regional Municipality continues to collaborate with the Province of Nova Scotia, professional service providers and volunteers, to provide support to those experiencing homelessness in our region.
Over the past several months, important steps have been taken to support access to affordable housing while simultaneously working with partners to combat the critical issue of homelessness.
The municipality has been allocated more than $20 million through the federal government’s Rapid Housing Initiative program which will result in 137 units of new permanent, affordable housing. In August, Regional Council unanimously approved investing up to $500,000 towards a range of emergency accommodations for those experiencing homelessness. A significant development in the advancement of securing emergency accommodations is underway, as the municipality is currently in discussions with the province to establish two emergency accommodations sites in the very near future.
The municipality has secured 24 modular units that can provide accommodations for up to 73 individuals. One site will be located in Dartmouth, and another in Halifax. Specific locations are to be determined in consultation with the professional service providers and the province.
“We have a duty to all residents of this municipality, a moral obligation to do more to help people who are unhoused and to help improve affordability so more people can remain secure in their homes or find a home,” said Mayor Mike Savage.
The municipality will commit to providing lands for the emergency accommodations sites, securing the modular units, and facilitating required renovations, as well as site preparation and installation. Once established, the emergency accommodation sites would provide washrooms, laundry, kitchen area and sleeping accommodations.
“These emergency accommodation sites will remain available for as long as the need is required,” said Assistant Chief of Emergency Management Erica Fleck. ”Future status of the sites will be assessed on an ongoing basis, and we will be looking to the province to provide wrap around services for the occupants of these sites.”
The municipality recently transitioned Gray Arena to a temporary emergency shelter with Out of the Cold as the service provider and funding from the province for wrap around services. The Gray Arena will remain operational as a temporary emergency shelter, until October 31 at the latest, at which time all individuals onsite will have been provided alternative options – whether that be at one of the new emergency accommodations sites being developed in the near future or other facilities operated by professional service providers and funded through the province.
Through collaboration with professional service providers and volunteers, occupants of the homeless encampment at Meagher Park continue to be offered alternative, safe, temporary accommodations. It is important to remember that some of those experiencing homelessness will not – or cannot – accept housing options, temporary accommodations and/or other offers of support for a variety of reasons.
In the coming days the municipality will be focusing on Victoria Park. The municipality will work together with community partners to offer accommodations as well as services and supports to occupants of the homeless encampment at this park.
In addition to efforts currently underway, the municipality is hiring a coordinator for a one-year term to act as a liaison with professional service providers and ensure better aligned efforts in support of those experiencing homelessness. This position was created following input and feedback from professional service providers regarding ways in which the municipality can provide additional support.
For more information on the municipality’s approach to homelessness and initiatives to support affordable housing, visit our website.