Coronavirus: Homeless rate in Halifax doubles during pandemic, study says

Click to play video: 'Homelessness rates in Halifax doubled amid COVID-19 pandemic'
Homelessness rates in Halifax doubled amid COVID-19 pandemic
Homelessness rates in Halifax doubled amid COVID-19 pandemic – Nov 19, 2020

Homeless rates in Halifax have doubled as the COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated the lack of available and affordable housing options across the region.

“The pandemic just broke down a lot of informal arrangements,” said Jim Graham, executive director with the Affordable Housing Association of Nova Scotia.  “With people not feeling safe and secure in shared accommodations and the other part of that is the one per cent vacancy rate.”

AHANS recently published a study that shows there are currently 477 people who are homeless in Halifax and of that group 375 are considered chronically without a place to live.

“That (homeless) number traditionally might have been around 150,” said Graham.

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As Nova Scotia braces for the second wave of COVID-19, support agencies and charities like the Salvation Army Maritimes Division is preparing for a busy winter.

“In some cases, we’ve seen an increase of 110 per cent at some of our locations in the Maritimes,” said Major Jamie Locke, public relations and development lead with the Salvation Army in the Maritimes.

Grace Caldi volunteers with The Salvation Army Christmas Kettle donation campaign at Mike’s No Frills in Spryfield, NS. Jesse Thomas / Global News

People accessing the food bank, shelter and other support services have skyrocketed, said Locke, and so the charitable organization is looking to the community for support to help meet the need this holiday season.

Click to play video: '‘Scraggly’ Rockefeller Christmas tree set up in New York City'
‘Scraggly’ Rockefeller Christmas tree set up in New York City

“We are hearing stories of people coming to us and saying this is the very first time they’ve ever needed help,” said Locke.

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The Salvation Army Christmas Kettle campaign is underway and looking to raise $1.8 million this year to help during the pandemic.

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Last year the charity helped 56,000 people across the Maritimes, providing 13,000 free meals and assisting 14,000 with Christmas hampers.

“People are turning to us that have never had to ask for help before,” said Locke. “They need us now and we need the support of Maritimers who can donate.”

On Tuesday Halifax council will hold a special meeting to discuss how it will invest $8.7 million from a federal rapid housing money program, to address the housing crisis and homelessness issue here.


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