Nova Scotia

Archdiocese has faith it will get the funds to complete temporary housing projects

The Archdiocese of Halifax-Yarmouth is raising funds to complete 15 to 20 emergency housing units on its properties by late December.

As many as 20 units are expected to be completed by late December

The Archdiocese of Halifax-Yarmouth says it expects to have the shelters ready for occupancy by Christmas Eve. (Nic Meloney/CBC)

The Archdiocese of Halifax-Yarmouth has launched a fundraising campaign on its website and in its parishes to finance temporary shelters for people without a safe place to live this winter.

The goal is to have 15 to 20 units — each at a cost of $11,500 — installed by Dec. 24 at various parish locations.

Project manager John Stevens said the archdiocese is asking for support from anyone willing to help tackle the problem of homelessness. 

"We're working really hard to get this done and we're relying on a lot of people of goodwill to support it, to make it happen," he said.

"We're kind of taking it on faith that we'll be able to fund these and get them in place on time."

A rendering of the emergency winter shelter option chosen by the archdiocese. (Well Engineered Inc.)

The modular units were designed by Dartmouth firm Well Engineered and will be assembled off-site before they are delivered.

Locations for the units are still being assessed to ensure there's support for electrical hookups and adequate space away from the main parish buildings, but Stevens said he anticipates there will be seven or eight sites in total.

The price of the modular units is connected to high material costs and the need to conform to city building requirements.

Each unit is 8 by 8 feet, which is the minimum size of a bedroom. The shelters will have steel siding, an integrated twin bed with storage, heating, USB charge ports, and a fire extinguisher on the exterior.  

An emergency winter shelter under construction off-site. (Archdiocese of Halifax-Yarmouth)

A previous shelter design was abandoned and replaced with one that had better fire-proofing, better exterior finishes and can be firmly anchored to the ground, said Stevens.

Stevens said the city has been "very forthcoming" with permits and he doesn't anticipate any problems in meeting their Dec. 24 completion deadline once funding is obtained. 

Each building needs a separate permit as land-use bylaw requirements vary by location, said a municipal spokesperson.

Stevens said Archbishop Brian Dunn has been the driving force behind the project.

"The archbishop made homelessness one of his priorities when he first arrived in the diocese last year," Stevens said.

Archbishop Brian Dunn, seen here, has made homelessness a priority, says the project manager for the emergency shelters. (Steve Lawrence/CBC)

The archdiocese will be working with social services, community organizations and street navigators to determine who will get placement in the shelters once they are set up. 

The units are designed as emergency winter housing and will be disassembled when the project ends on May 31, 2022, and put into storage until they are needed again.

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