We are a group of people who are deeply concerned that the city of Halifax and the province of Nova Scotia choose to ignore houselessness, and stand by while people are left in the cold without access to even the most basic shelter. We are tired of these local governments that pretend “the housing crisis” that they created is impossible to solve. We are tired of these local governments who break their own laws and bylaws to allow luxury development that is inaccessible to the average Halifax resident. We are tired of seeing municipal and publicly-owned property being empty and derelict or sold off to private developers instead of being retrofitted for social housing.
In response to the inadequacy, corruption, and incompetence of municipal and provincial officials to solve this crisis, we have chosen to provide some form of shelter to the houseless directly. We will build small, watertight, and insulated shelters for anyone stuck in the cold this winter. We do this because otherwise residents of Halifax will die. We do this to show that if community members in our city work together to pool our collective resources, the so-called “housing crisis” is no crisis at all.
We are aware that what we are doing is not a solution to the housing crisis in our city nor it is a solution to homelessness, that said we would rather build safe, secure shelters using our limited resources than leave fellow community members to die outside in the cold this winter. We do not see what we are doing as a long-term solution, but rather a short-term necessity given our circumstances.
We also would like to call out local governments who want to lecture us about what structures are and are not. They turn a blind eye to landlords throughout HRM that leave rental units without windows, doors, and locks. They ignore landlords that leave major structural issues like mold, leaks, holes in walls and ceilings, or public health issues like rodents and pests unmitigated indefinitely, while gouging and exploiting their tenants for ever-increasing rents. They let developers build unsafe and overpriced structures without penalty.
We believe that these local governments have ample resources available to solve the problem of houselessness, but they refuse to. Therefore, our only demand is that all empty and vacant publicly owned property in HRM be retrofitted to provide not-for-profit housing for any residents in need regardless of their ability to pay. Some examples of currently vacant public properties that could be developed into social housing are St. Pat’s Alexandra, the Bloomfield Centre, and the Old Central Library. These three empty properties alone could provide more than enough housing to all those who are currently unhoused in our city.
Housing provides safety, autonomy, and dignity for city residents. We see the failure of the HRM and provincial to house all its residents as a deep injustice. We demand the most obvious and humane act from those who claim to represent us. House those in need now. We will continue building and providing shelter to those in need until they are housed permanently.
Any volunteer, information, or donation requests should be sent to HalifaxMutualAid@riseup.net