Dartmouth hotel being converted into units for 65 people without housing

Click to play video: 'Newly signed deal seen as a game changer for housing'
Newly signed deal seen as a game changer for housing
The ink is drying on a newly signed deal that housing workers and advocates in Nova Scotia say will be a game changer for dozens of people in desperate need of supportive housing. Alexa MacLean has more. – Oct 29, 2021

A hotel in Dartmouth is being converted into a housing project for homeless adults, including those who struggle with addictions and people just released from hospital.

Federal, provincial and municipal politicians announced funding Thursday to house 65 people at a converted Travelodge hotel — to be renamed The Overlook — that’s expected to open later this year.

Marie-France LeBlanc, director of the North End Community Health Centre, said residents will have access to housing support workers, addictions specialists, medical professionals and a “death doula” who will provide assistance to the dying.

The housing in the suburb of Dartmouth will be operated by the Affordable Housing Association of Nova Scotia and the community health centre, with ongoing funding of $1.5 million from the province — which will also provide $3.5 million to purchase the building.

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Ahmed Hussen, the federal housing minister, said during the announcement that Ottawa is providing $6.5 million for renovations and other costs through its federal rapid housing initiative, which flows through the Halifax Regional Municipality.

The building will include a pharmacy, a drop-in centre for tenants, a counselling centre, a library, a cafe and a community kitchen, said LeBlanc.

“Above and beyond the medical care, The Overlook provides an essential place to create community, and that will be the key to our success: a community of individuals who look out for one another to live safer lives,” she added.

LeBlanc traced the idea for the centre to the late Patti Melanson, a registered nurse who was the founder of the Mobile Outreach Street Health program that provided health care to homeless people in Halifax. Melanson died in 2018.

“Over 10 years ago, she came up with this idea. Patti was a true champion of those most in need and always advocated that we put harm reduction first, that housing was a right, and that supports be put in place to keep you there,” LeBlanc said.

Jim Graham, the executive director of the Affordable Housing Association of Nova Scotia, said in an email that there are challenges to converting the building, as it was a designed for temporary guests rather than long-term residents.

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“As you might expect with a 30-year-old building, there were some surprises under the surface,” he added.

The news release from the province said five units at the centre will be designated for care for people who lack housing after they’re released from hospital.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 27, 2022.

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