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Halifax-Yarmouth archdiocese, HRM moving quickly on emergency shelter accommodations

Click to play video: 'Two emergency shelter projects in HRM with tight timelines' Two emergency shelter projects in HRM with tight timelines
WATCH: There are two emergency shelter projects in development in the Halifax Regional Municipality to support the homeless population. Councillor Sam Austin is holding a meeting Monday night to address concerns and provide information about one of them. But with cold temperatures here and winter are the corner, timelines are tight. Callum Smith reports. – Nov 29, 2021

A rainy Monday in Halifax may be better than snow — since it’s almost December.

But damp weather, no matter what, creates extra challenges for people without a home.

“There is a definite sense of urgency to it,” says Sam Austin, councillor for Dartmouth Centre. “When we look at the issue, the quickest thing we could do was to bring in modular housing. And this is housing like you’d find on a remote worksite.”

Read more: Shelter Nova Scotia offers a new drop-in support for homeless

Halifax Regional Municipality expects to hand over the keys to Out of the Cold Community Association, a frontline agency, by the end of December, Austin says.

A municipal update says installation of the modular units is expected wrap up by Dec. 20.

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There will be room for 24 people at a location on Alderney Drive.

Click to play video: 'Protesters outside Province House say state of housing in Nova Scotia is an emergency' Protesters outside Province House say state of housing in Nova Scotia is an emergency
Protesters outside Province House say state of housing in Nova Scotia is an emergency – Nov 28, 2021

Coun. Austin is holding an information session Monday night in response to feedback he’s received already about the project.

“Some people, yes, they’re so happy that HRM is taking serious action on this issue,” he says. “I’ve heard some folks, outright, [say] I don’t want this in my neighbourhood.”

A Halifax location, yet to be publicly announced, will have space for 44 people.

The municipality has kicked in $3.2-million to the project, while the province is providing $2.7-million to Out of the Cold.

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Halifax-Yarmouth is also providing shelter. They’re having 17 to 20 individual units built for parish properties in HRM and the surrounding area.

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Those units are to be ready by Dec. 24.

Read more: Halifax has ‘no interest in criminalizing homelessness,’ mayor says

Archbishop Brian Dunn says homelessness became a top priority when he took over a year ago.

“The idea was to really acknowledge that this is a major concern, not only in Halifax but throughout the whole archdiocese,” says Dunn.

The archdiocese just got the green light from the municipality to have these shelters on their properties. The total project cost — to be raised — is about $230,000.

Engineering design has been donated.

“They’re well-put-together shelters and that drives the cost,” says John Stevens, the project manager with the Archdiocese of Halifax-Yarmouth.

“They’re 8′ by 8′ with metal roof, metal siding, gyprock finish on the inside, R-12 insulation. We’re even running electrical from nearby buildings to power USB charge ports, lights, built-in smoke detectors, [and] of course, electric heat.”

Stevens says owning the properties and having the engineering firm ready to work rapidly will help the archdiocese achieve the tight timeline.

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