People will move this weekend into 24 of the new emergency housing units built by the Halifax Regional Municipality to tackle the housing crisis.
Michelle Malette is executive director of the Out of the Cold community association, which has been supporting 35 people in a temporary shelter in Dartmouth's Gray Arena.
"The units are really lovely. They're small but they've been built really intentionally. All of them have a bed built in, there's a desk, shelving and a closet. Everything is new. People are very excited," she told CBC's Information Morning Thursday.
The new modular units are located in a parking lot on Alderney Drive. A second set of units that will be located next to the Centennial Pool on Gottingen Street in Halifax are due to open in March.
Malette said Out of the Cold prioritized housing for people who have to deal with major mental health and addictions issues, which can making finding and keeping housing even harder.
"All of us need the opportunity for housing. It's something that brings stability to our life," she said. "Housing with the right support will make a big difference in people being able to stay in their homes."
She said a further 10 people will leave the arena shelter to stay in hotels paid for by the province until they find better accommodation and will be supported by an outreach worker.
The budget for the modular units in Halifax and Dartmouth has risen beyond the one approved by regional council this fall, and the project has faced delays.
City officials have cited rising construction costs, and council voted earlier this week to spend an additional $1.2 million, bringing the total budget to $4.9 million.
Malette said the new units in Dartmouth are grouped into four pods of six units, and each pod shares two washrooms and two showers. Each pod has a washer and a drier, and everyone gets a key to their own front door.
"It's really huge," she said. "They're so excited to be able to access laundry."
She said some people will live there for a while and transition to something else, while others may stay long term. Halifax has funded the units for two years and they are meant to stay in place for five years.
Malette said the units are the answer for a small number of people, but not a full solution to the growing population of unhoused people in the Halifax area.
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