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Source: Halifax Forum

Homelessness will not be solved without deeply affordable housing says HRM Director of Housing

By Caitlin Snow Apr 16, 2024 | 2:08 PM

“We need deeply affordable housing.”

That is what Max Chauvin, HRM’s Director of Housing and Homelessness told community members at the Halifax Forum, Monday night.

Residents gathered for an information session about next steps with the temporary shelter.

Chauvin says in 2018 there were 18 people living rough in HRM, and by February 2023 that was over 200, and since then it has exploded.

Now, more than 1,100 people are currently on the city’s by-name list, looking for housing, with 10-12 new people added every single week.

Once homelessness started to get extreme, he says, they looked for solutions.

The idea was that the province would fund a space and 902 Man Up, would staff it.

The Multipurpose room at the Forum was chosen as a temporary shelter because even though they found 14 suitable spaces owned by the province, no one would rent to them.

Chauvin says the municipality was left with a choice.

“Do we find a space that we own that we can create a shelter, or do we leave people to die outside.”

The shelter had a capacity for 100 people in the winter and had around 70 people stay under its roof, Sunday night.

He says the plan for the shelter is, it will remain open until August 31, as the city looks for a long-term solution for those living rough.

In order to find it, Chauvin says they reached out to community members, and they have had a lot of responses with a lot of different ideas which they are looking into.

Affordable housing

Chauvin says the solution to solving homeless is simply, deeply affordable housing with rent geared to the income you make.

This would be about 20 to 30 per cent below the average rent, which is right now roughly $2,000 a month for a two bedroom apartment.

Chauvin says even $1,600/month is not affordable for many people, from youth to seniors.

‘We moved people and watched people in their 70’s have to move into a tent because they can’t afford it.”

He says the problem will be solved when communities and governments of all levels build housing and turn it over to the non-for-profit organizations to run.

The shelter at the Forum opened in January.