In late-August, the Chief Administrative Officer directed staff to begin an assessment of municipal property and facilities that may be leveraged for temporary accommodations for those experiencing homelessness, to source additional hotel rooms and identify other privately held buildings that could be retrofitted for occupancy before winter.
On August 31, 2021, Regional Council unanimously approved investing up to $500,000 towards a range of emergency accommodations for those experiencing homelessness. (View the motion deliberated by Regional Council.)
Immediate steps were taken to identify underutilized or surplus municipally-owned properties and facilities that can be retrofitted into safe short-term accommodations for people who are unhoused. The goal is to increase the inventory of temporary accommodations as soon as possible.
Building upon collaboration efforts to date, the municipality is working closely with community-based service providers and the Province of Nova Scotia to advance these efforts and ensure social services are available as part of a holistic approach to addressing homelessness.
On Sept. 29 the municipality announced a significant development in the advancement of the municipality's commitment to invest $500,000 towards securing emergency accommodations. 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 emergency accommodations 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.
Municipal staff continue to work to identify sites that have the potential to accommodate temporary housing and are assessing the appropriateness of their use for this purpose, as well as the potential costs. If appropriate options are identified, professional community-based service providers will be engaged to determine the suitability of the site for short-term housing and providing support.
The $500,000 funding commitment will also be used to leverage those opportunities that can have the most immediate impact — including funding new positions within the service delivery organizations to make things happen on the ground and equipping community outreach workers with the financial resources required to secure temporary accommodations within hotels that will accept requests.
Assistant Chief of Emergency Management, Erica Fleck, has been assigned to a three-month role — beginning September 20, 2021 — to lead the emergency response to homelessness for the municipality. The role is focused on the immediate support required to advance Council’s directive to invest $500,000 towards emergency housing measures.
The municipality is also 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.
Further information on the status of efforts will be provided through regular public updates.