Community organization still waiting for modular homes promised for HRM

·3 min read
Tents and wooden emergency shelters are seen at a homeless encampment in Halifax's Meagher Park in August 2021. The city has been grappling with a housing crisis, but there are plans to offer modular housing units for people in need of a place to live. (Jeorge Sadi/CBC - image credit)
Tents and wooden emergency shelters are seen at a homeless encampment in Halifax's Meagher Park in August 2021. The city has been grappling with a housing crisis, but there are plans to offer modular housing units for people in need of a place to live. (Jeorge Sadi/CBC - image credit)

A Halifax-based group that advocates for safe and affordable housing says it's ready to get people moved ASAP into modular units planned for the municipality, but it's unclear when the city will deliver what's been promised.

Last week, regional council approved spending $3.2 million on the purchase, installation and maintenance of modular housing units. The provincial government also announced it would provide $2.7 million for supportive housing services through the Out of the Cold Community Association.

"Assuming [the units] do come new, and they're clean and there's at least a bed and those things in it, we should be able to move people in within 24 to 48 hours," said Michelle Malette, the association's executive director.

The municipality initially hoped to have units delivered in October, but the housing is now expected to arrive sometime this month.

Coun. Waye Mason explained the delay in a recent tweet, saying the original units the municipality had hoped to purchase "were not suitable for the intended purpose."

24 individual rooms

When the units are ready, people staying at the Gerald B. Gray Memorial Arena in Dartmouth are expected to transition into the housing at a site on that side of the harbour.

The modular units will have 24 individual rooms for people facing complex barriers to housing, such as poverty, criminalization, racism, homophobia, transphobia or food insecurity. All genders are welcome and residents must be 16 and over.

Malette said priority will be given to those already receiving support through the association and those in need of immediate housing. The units will offer both permanent and temporary housing based on individual needs.

"We are still looking at who's high acuity and where the gaps are," she said.

Although on-site clinical support will likely not be offered, Malette said residents will have access to 24/7 on-site support from case workers. Recreational and therapeutic support will also be offered, and people will have help accessing a variety of social and health services. The association is also working on a meal plan.

"A lot of the people that we support need some support around things like dental care, eyeglasses — those kinds of things that many times is just not possible to address when you're not feeling stable, and you don't have a stable living environment," said Malette.

"We will be offering support around harm reduction. We're very harm-reduction focused."

Floor plans not yet known

Malette said it's unclear what the floor plan of the units will be, which has made the planning process a little difficult.

"We have not been consulted in any of that, and we don't really have any choice," said Malette, adding that she hopes there will be a common space where residents and staff can gather.

Malette said she also expects some units to have a kitchen and laundry area.

"[There's] lots of stress there and lots of stress about the unknowns, but it'll be good to have a permanent site," she said.

"We're really happy to have permanent funding."

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