Common questions regarding municipal efforts to help address homelessness in the Halifax region
- What actions were taken by the municipality at Meagher Park on Feb. 26, 2022?
Mid-afternoon on Saturday, Feb. 26, the municipality was made aware that a large (12x12x10) illegal structure was being built at Meagher Park.
The individuals building the structure were asked to remove it.
A number of hours later, when the structure had not been voluntarily removed, municipal staff began removal efforts. No other items, including tents, temporary shelters, or food, were removed from Meagher Park and no fines were issued by municipal staff.
With the safety of all residents as a top priority, it was the municipality’s obligation to take action using appropriate enforcement of existing by-laws and regulations.
More information can be found in the municipal statement that was issued on Sunday, Feb. 27.
- When will the modular units purchased by the municipality be installed at the Dartmouth site?
The Dartmouth site is on Alderney Drive, near Church Street. Four modular units, an accessible unit and two support units, for a total seven (7) units are located here. This site currently accommodates 26 individuals.
Modification of the modular unit to accommodate the commercial kitchen has been impacted by supply chain issues. Completion of this work is expected in to be March 18. Out of the Cold staff are using alternative solutions until the full kitchen is available.
- When will the modular units purchased by the municipality be installed at the Halifax site?
Now that the Dartmouth site is complete, the municipality has shifted its focus on completing the Halifax modular unit site.
The Halifax site is located on a portion of the parking area of the Centennial Pool (see map). Six modular units, an accessible unit and a number of support units, for a total of nine (9) units, have been installed at this location. Based on single occupancy, this site will be able to accommodate 38 individuals.
The following work was initiated on March 14: (1) installation of sanitary, water and electrical systems underside modular units; (2) construction of electrical and mechanical building structures to accommodate Halifax Water and NSPI services; (3) renovation of three modular units to accommodate the commercial kitchen and barrier free bedroom(s)/washroom; (4) construction of wood skirting to enclose the modular units; and (5) construction of wood stairs and ramps to all modular units.
The municipality continues to work with partners to achieve occupancy as quickly as possible.
- What is the municipality doing to help address homelessness in the region?
The municipality's approach to homeless encampments centres on treating people experiencing homelessness in our public spaces with dignity while working to find ways to best support them within our capacity and scope as a municipality.
While the province is responsible to lead addressing homelessness in all regions of the province, the municipality also has an important role to play – and is committed to applying resources to support efforts aimed at helping to address homelessness in the Halifax region.
On Jan. 11, 2022, Regional Council approved an additional $1.2 million in spending to purchase and install modular units at the Halifax and Dartmouth sites, as well as address suitable temporary housing to address needs of unhoused residents. More information on ongoing efforts can be found here.
Additionally, on March 1, 2022 Regional Council voted to redirect $206,000 from education to funds that support purchasing and maintaining modular units.
- What is the municipality doing to help those who are unhoused during severe weather events?
The municipality has provided The Pavilion on the Halifax Common to the Province of Nova Scotia to operate a temporary overnight shelter on a nightly basis until March 31 for those experiencing homelessness.
- Has the province confirmed it will provide wrap around services for the modular units being purchased, installed and maintained by the municipality?
The Province of Nova Scotia announced it is providing about $2.7 million to Out of the Cold Community Association to deliver wraparound, supportive housing services to the individuals at the Dartmouth site. The services provided include things such as permanent housing solutions, mental health and addictions support, life stability and community connections and employment support.
- Who is making arrangements to identify and place occupants in the emergency accommodations sites?
The Province of Nova Scotia and its confirmed service provider, Out of the Cold Community Association, are responsible for arrangements to identify and place occupants in the emergency accommodations sites being provided by the municipality.
- What investments has the municipality made with staffing resources to help address homelessness?
To assist in responding to homelessness issues, Regional Council approved a Social Policy Strategist position in the 2021/22 budget which has been filled. This position acts as the main contact for community stakeholders and service providers and will coordinate development of homelessness plans and strategies for the municipality.
In addition, a full-time Housing and Homelessness Coordinator has been hired on a 12- month term. This position conducts outreach work to support, and help house, those experiencing homelessness, in coordination with community service providers.
- When is the next update expected to be delivered to Regional Council?
Regional Council receives regular monthly information reports (all publicly available here) regarding the status of municipal efforts to provide emergency accommodations for those who are unhoused.
Additional updates are being shared publicly on a weekly basis until modular units have been installed at both sites by the municipality and the Province of Nova Scotia has begun to place individuals at the sites and provide wrap around services. Depending upon the status of progress, frequency of these updates may vary.
- What is the municipality's approach to homeless encampments?
The municipality’s approach to homeless encampments centres on treating people experiencing homelessness in our public spaces with dignity while working to find ways to best support them within our capacity and scope as a municipality.
The right to adequate housing is embedded in international law, federal legislation, and municipal strategies and frameworks. Accordingly, the municipality understands encampments to be in violation of individuals’ rights to adequate housing.
For these reasons, the municipality’s approach has been to allow occupants of homeless encampments to remain until adequate housing has been identified and offered, or until the health and safety of the occupants or public are at risk.
This approach does not condone or support the installation of infrastructure associated with encampments and requires that steps be taken to address demonstrated risks to the health and safety of occupants or the public.