Nova Scotia

Business groups look for funding to help homeless

Two Halifax business associations want the municipality to contribute $135,000 over three years to a program that helps the homeless.

Halifax councillors to discuss contributing $135,000 over three years to Navigator Program

The Navigator Program connected with 222 people who were homeless or had precarious housing situations between June 2016 and April 2017. (CBC)

Two Halifax business associations want the municipality to contribute $135,000 over three years for a program that helps the homeless. If approved, the money would cover half of the annual budget.

The Navigator Program dealt with 222 people between June 2016 and April 2017. The outreach ranged from buying a pair of workboots to finding housing. 

"It works. It really, truly does," said Sacha Curran, the program's social worker. "I meet with people where they're at."

The head of the Spring Garden Area Business Association says local businesses have been supportive.

"It's working with people on an ongoing basis," said Juanita Spencer. "It's been a tremendous success."

For eight years, the Downtown Halifax Business Commission and Spring Garden Area Business Association only used levies from business members to pay for the program. In 2015, the municipality provided a one-time grant. Now, the associations have asked for multi-year funding.

"I'm on foot in the downtown areas to do my outreach," explained Curran. "But I get referrals from all over." 

An HRM staff report said there is money in the budget to cover the request for 2018. It also points out that social services is traditionally a provincial mandate. But the report adds that the Navigator Program reduces homelessness and panhandling and that improves public safety.

Halifax regional council will debate the request on Tuesday. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Pam Berman

Reporter

Pam Berman is CBC Nova Scotia's municipal affairs reporter. She's been a journalist for almost 35 years and has covered Halifax regional council since 1997. That includes four municipal elections, 19 budgets and countless meetings. Story ideas can be sent to pam.berman@cbc.ca

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