As P.E.I. looks to modular units to ease housing crisis, here's what Halifax did

·2 min read
The modular units on Cogswell Street in Halifax have staff from the Out of the Cold Community Association providing 24/7 support at the site. (CBC - image credit)
The modular units on Cogswell Street in Halifax have staff from the Out of the Cold Community Association providing 24/7 support at the site. (CBC - image credit)

P.E.I.'s provincial government has announced a plan to bring in several dozen modular housing units to accommodate the growing number of unhoused people in Charlottetown — and it's not the first Canadian city to implement a similar idea.

On Tuesday, Minister of Social Development and Housing Matthew MacKay said a solution was needed before winter, since many of Charlottetown's unhoused are living in tents around the city.

It's similar to a plan introduced by Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM) last fall. Although there were several delays, 62 modular units have now been installed: 24 in Dartmouth and 38 in Halifax.

"We have a specific mandate that brings in folks who really fall through the cracks of other systems, who are not allowed to access … a shelter or a different kind of program because they have been barred or there are barriers in place that don't allow them to be there," said Kat Stein, a program manager with Out of the Cold Community Association, the group providing support services at the HRM units.

Staff on site 24 hours a day in HRM

Officials have said the units for Charlottetown will be similar to units used in other jurisdictions, with each offering one or two bedrooms with a shared bathroom and shower.

Kerry Campbell/CBC
Kerry Campbell/CBC

In Halifax, the units consist of several large trailers, each containing six bedrooms furnished with a bed, desk and dresser.

Each trailer has two shared bathrooms with shower facilities, a washer and dryer, and each location has a designated kitchen trailer and an office trailer for Out of the Cold staff, who are on site 24/7.

Three meals are provided each day, plus snacks, coffee and tea.

Case managers are on site five days a week.

Who will get the units?

In Halifax, residents are referred to the modular units through community agencies, and then go through an intake process.

It's not clear how residents will be selected on P.E.I. Nor has the province given details of when the units might be ready to be occupied after they arrive in mid-November.

Submitted by P.E.I. government
Submitted by P.E.I. government

Residents living in tents in Charlottetown have been wary of speaking to the media on the record. However, on Wednesday some people at one encampment told CBC News they're pleased something is being done to address their situation — and they're looking forward to having access to running water and a bathroom.

The province has said longer-term solutions for Charlottetown's homeless population will be worked out over the coming months.