Most of Canada’s most densely populated provinces unveiled relief plans for Canada’s housing crisis in recent weeks, with Ontario’s announcement in April setting a precedent in terms of how to tackle the problem.
In the same month, Nova Scotia Prime Minister Stephen McNeil introduced the Nova Scotia Housing, Housing and Construction Act, which would establish a fund to offset the cost of supportive housing for chronically homeless people in the province. More than 90 percent of those individuals are people living on the street or facing barriers like a mental illness or substance use, according to recent research from Centraide, a provincial charity.
The announcement in Halifax comes days after the provincial government released figures showing that 47 percent of Nova Scotia residents “could be considered homeless.” Their situation can be pretty dire. Recent research from Ipsos found that for every $30 spent on shelter in Nova Scotia, $9 goes to people experiencing homelessness.
The fund established by Nova Scotia would fund nearly 200 new units of supportive housing for people with mental illness, autism, physical disabilities, opioid dependency and substance abuse.
“For too long Nova Scotians have suffered from poor housing conditions, homelessness and lack of services,” McNeil said in a statement. “Today, we are providing a lifeline for marginalized Nova Scotians to support their recovery and restore their dignity.”
Over the past four years, the province has been unable to deliver 300 supportive housing units promised to by the previous government. As Vox put it: “The previous NDP government had a (lack of) vision for housing and a commitment to spend money wisely.”
The province expects that the new money will allow them to begin the construction of 70 more units of supportive housing for homeless people, and has set aside about $5 million a year for the plan over the next four years.
The $6 million commitment to the housing program was welcomed by advocates, but they are still awaiting confirmation on where the funding will come from.
“It’s good news but a trickle compared to what needs to be done to do serious work in the housing space,” said Andrew Taylor, a policy adviser for Centraide. “This is one step along the way, but it’s definitely a stepping stone.”