Displaced single mother ends up in another Dartmouth hotel due to a lack of housing options

Click to play video: 'Single mother on social assistance displaced from Dartmouth hotel' Single mother on social assistance displaced from Dartmouth hotel
Last week, a Dartmouth hotel terminated its relationship with the department of community services, leaving several families on social assistance scrambling to find housing. One of the single mothers who was displaced, has been placed into another hotel with her children. – Feb 27, 2020

When single mother-of-five Mikki Rhyno ended up on social assistance due to traumatic life experiences, the last place she thought she’d end up is a hotel room.

However, despite her social worker’s best efforts to find her stable housing, Rhyno says the only options have been hotel rooms.

Several social assistance clients were displaced with the Travelodge Dartmouth gave them 48 hours to leave. The hotel wouldn’t discuss details, other than they’re ‘cutting ties’ with community services. Alexa MacLean/Global Halifax

Rhyno isn’t alone. Last week, several social assistance clients who were placed in the Travelodge Suites, say they returned to their rooms to find notices taped to their doors telling them the hotel “cut tie” with the Department of Community Services (DCS).

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The clients had 48 hours to leave the property because their stays “weren’t being extended.”

READ MORE: ‘They’re basically giving us the boot’: Dartmouth hotel terminates reservations with social assistance guests

Scrambling to find a new home, Rhyno says the best option her social worker could find was another hotel in Dartmouth. Rhyno says affordable and safe housing is practically non-existent, especially for single mothers on social assistance.

She says oftentimes when she contacts landlords, they don’t reply.

“I’m very honest and I outright ask them if they accept applicants on social assistance and I’ve been told no, or I don’t even get a reply back. It’s heartbreaking, I’m stuck in a hotel with my children. There’s no stability, there’s no security,” she says.

Community Services Minister Kelly Regan says hotels are a “temporary” placement for DCS clients in need of housing. She says the majority of people placed into hotels are only there short term and because they need medical appointments.

“Seventy-five per cent of those situations are in fact, people coming to a place other than their hometown for medical situations. So they’re receiving treatment,” Regan said.

Rhyno says she’s going on two months of “hotel hopping.”

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The recent provincial budget includes millions of dollars in investments for homelessness and housing initiatives, ranging from increases to the Child Benefit to the hiring of 27 more housing support workers.

READ MORE: N.S. budget ‘overlooks’ low rental vacancy rate: critics say

In terms of building new affordable units for people like Rhyno and others, there are 39 slated for construction.

The affordable housing strain, combined with a one per cent rental vacancy rate, leaves non-profit organizations like the Out of the Cold emergency shelter stretched to their breaking point.

“Shelters are not the answer for folks that have nowhere else to go,” said Jeff Karabanow, an Out of the Cold co-ordinator.

“Housing is a right of our citizens. We should really, really have been investing in a whole slew of different supportive and affordable housing options.”

Karabanow says the shelter had to change their capacity policy this winter due to being inundated with record-high numbers of people in need of a place to sleep.

“We had about 35 to 40 people sleeping with us. There’s 20 cots and we were seeing about 20 people sleeping on the floor, 25 people sleeping on the floor. We have always ran as a 15 bed, small, supportive, little shelter space and this numbers were huge for us,” Karabanow said.

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As a volunteer-run community based shelter, Karabanow says they couldn’t keep up with the demand of people in need of refuge.

Meanwhile, mothers like Rhyno are hoping concrete government actions will be taken to address an affordable housing problem that’s forcing her to raise her children in a hotel room.

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