P.A.D.S. Community Network decries mixed messages sent from the city
For immediate release
Halifax/Kjipuktuk. Even as the P.A.D.S. Community Network is sending people to fill the small number of available hotel spaces, more people are joining the temporary sheltering place, dubbed “People’s Park”, at the intersection of Chebucto and Dublin streets in Halifax. Volunteers and those housed at People’s Park blame the lack of clarity from the city about where people are allowed to temporarily house themselves safely, when no legal sheltering spaces are even available. They also note that the uncertainty around when hotel rooms will be available has created tension and feelings of inequity that have further compounded the distress felt by those sleeping in the park, who still have no assurance that they won’t be evicted or criminalized while awaiting their own rooms.
“Some councillors say that 4-5 tents are ok, while another might favour a large encampment model with social supports. Meanwhile, we know that the police have harassed and even evicted those tenting in small numbers, at one point recommending that those people come tent with us,” explains Drew Moore, an organizer with P.A.D.S. Community Network. “We need a moratorium on evictions at least until other suitable temporary options are available to people.”
After the city committed publicly to ensuring that all houseless persons in the city would be offered a space in newly available hotel rooms- only a small handful of folks who have once sheltered at the peoples park have received a hotel room while many others have been left to wait indefinitely with no word on when they too will be sheltered.
“You can’t give people that kind of indecision, it plays in their head all day,” explains Andrew Goodsell, a P.A.D.S. Community network member who was formerly living on the streets. “You are driving people into a state of anxiety.”
Last night, P.A.D.S. Community Network got word that the police had told a couple with a tent near Needham Park that they had one day to leave, or they would face eviction, fines, and the confiscation of their belongings.
This pressure only adds to the difficulties that this vulnerable population experiences.
P.A.D.S. Community Network is also concerned that the hotels are inappropriate and unsafe for many unhoused people, unless social supports, such as food, transportation, and social supports are also available.
“It is hard for us to celebrate that hotels are slowly becoming more available to people, because we know that many will not last in those accommodations,” admits Drew Moore. “We need supportive options to be available as well.”
The People’s Park exists as a temporary measure to protect our houseless neighbours who have nowhere else to go. They are working to find temporary accommodations until permanent, accessible, dignified & safer housing is available, and demand a moratorium on the evictions of unhoused people until appropriate, temporary accommodations are available.