Hundreds of Nova Scotians are currently experiencing homelessness and thousands more are precariously housed due to high rental costs. As we approach the date when Nova Scotians will elect a new government, it is vital to know what provincial parties and leaders plan to do about this emergency.
We were one of more than 70 organizations and housing advocates that sent a letter to the party leaders (Green Party, Liberal, NDP and PC) and posed a dozen questions to find out where they stand on issues related to homelessness and the right to housing.
We asked the following questions:
- Definitions: How do you define affordable housing?
- Accessibility: What is your understanding of accessible housing and its availability throughout the province?
- Rent control: Do you support rent control and if so, please give details or explain what you would put in place to offer stability to tenants?
- Affordability: What will you introduce to ensure that housing remains affordable? For example, will you introduce a provincial rent support program or/and raise income assistance rates? If so, how soon into a mandate would you do this?
- New units: What role will the Province have in building, acquiring and operating new affordable housing units in urban and rural NS? What is the timeline for this work?
- African Nova Scotian and Indigenous Housing: How will you work to meet the needs of African Nova Scotians and Indigenous Nova Scotians experiencing homelessness and housing poverty?
- Rural: What three key things will you implement to ensure that people living in rural communities have safe and affordable housing?
- In Community: Will your government deliver on the recommendations of “Choice, Equality and Good Lives in Inclusive Communities: A Roadmap for Transforming the Nova Scotia Services to Persons with Disabilities Program” and commit the funds needed to ensure Nova Scotians requiring support will be housed in their communities and not institutions?
- Innovation: What key innovations are your prepared to spearhead? For example, would you support a rent bank to prevent income-based evictions, a non-profit affordable housing development corporation, housing and supports for rural youth to reduce risks and force them to leave natural supports and migrate to urban shelters for safety, a lived experience housing advisory within Housing Nova Scotia that includes rural and urban members or other innovative responses to housing need?
- Internal Collaboration: What is your specific plan to ensure collaboration across government departments?
- Mental Health and Addictions: How will you ensure that clinical mental health supports are available in a timely fashion for people whose housing is jeopardized because of unmet mental health needs? What’s your commitment to the provision of harm reduction and addiction supports and what’s your timeline on this?
- Permanence: Permanent supportive housing is a critical response for many people who experience chronic homelessness. What role will the Province play to ensure sufficient new permanent supportive housing spaces are created in HRM and across the province?
Below you will find the PDF of what we heard back by our deadline.