The Halifax Regional Municipality recognizes that all residents deserve a home. It has adopted an empathy-based human rights approach to homelessness and homeless encampments that recognizes the human dignity of people experiencing homelessness.
As housing insecurity continues to be an issue in the region, work with community partners and other levels of government has significantly accelerated, and collaboration has expanded to help address both affordable housing and homelessness.
The Province of Nova Scotia has the mandate to provide public housing and programs for people with low to moderate incomes and maintain and build affordable housing throughout the province, including housing options for those experiencing homelessness. Residents with questions related to provincial supports and services for those experiencing homelessness can call 211 for more information.
The Halifax Regional 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 region.
Changes have been made to remove regulatory and service barriers for people experiencing housing insecurity such as removing fees, tax relief and donation of municipal land for affordable housing projects and installing public washrooms.
In the 2021-22 fiscal year, the municipality is hiring a new position focused on homelessness that will be responsible for guiding policy development and collaboration with stakeholders on addressing homelessness. The municipality will also be developing a longer-term strategy to guide the municipality’s response to homelessness.
As part of the Major Cities funding stream, the Halifax Regional Municipality has been identified for immediate funding of $8,659,527 to create a minimum of 28 units of new permanent affordable housing. The municipality evaluated Expressions of Interest and selected the following projects: Mi’kmaq Native Friendship Centre, Adsum for Women and Children and the North End Community Health Association for a total of 52 units/rooms. View the report. The projects will include a focus on people who are experiencing homelessness or at risk of homelessness including urban Indigenous people, women and their children, Black Canadians as well as people with physical disabilities. View the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation press release.
During the winter of 2020/21, the municipality provided $60,000 through the Downtown Halifax Business Commission (DHBC) to help Street Outreach Navigators provide short term stays to the most vulnerable individuals – those sleeping outside (including those in temporary structures), without shelter, and/or facing immediate danger of homelessness. This support also includes increased access to services and supports with the goal of finding more permanent housing.
The municipality is the primary funding partner for the Street Outreach Navigators through the downtown business improvement districts for Halifax and Dartmouth. The annual contribution for 2021/22 is $140,000.
All three levels of government play a role in the development and rehabilitation of affordable housing. The municipality acknowledges housing is a shared responsibility, and that issues surrounding affordable housing and homelessness cannot be solved by any single group or any single solution.
In 2020, the municipality established a new surplus land category that will make land suitable for the development of housing available to registered non-profit or charitable housing organizations. Prior to the creation of this new surplus land category, Council approved the sale of four properties on True North Crescent in North Dartmouth to the Affordable Housing Association of Nova Scotia.
For more information regarding the municipality’s initiatives to support affordable housing can be found here.