Nova Scotia

Halifax modular housing units installed, but not ready for occupancy

Modular housing units that will help house people experiencing homelessness are now installed in Halifax, but it's unclear when people will be able to move into them.

Units will provide housing to people experiencing homelessness

Once ready, these modular housing units are expected to house 38 people. (Dave Laughlin/CBC)

Modular housing units that will help house people experiencing homelessness are now installed in Halifax, but it's unclear when people will be able to move into them.

That's in part because plumbing and electrical work are underway, as well as the construction of wood stairs and ramps to the units. Arrangements are also being made for on-site support services for residents.

The province, which is responsible for providing those services, is also in charge of placing individuals in the units.

Earlier this month, Halifax Regional Municipality wrote in an update it posted online that the units could be ready for occupants by May 6. It also noted an exact date depended on the province. 

But in its most recent municipal update, there's no possible completion date mentioned, only that "the municipality continues to work with partners to achieve occupancy as quickly as possible."

No one from the city or the province would say when the units could begin housing people. The province said it's in discussions with the city on support services for the site.

The units are located in the Cogswell Street parking lot of the Centennial Pool, and are expected to house 38 people.

"This wasn't even something that existed as an idea seven or eight months ago, so this is important," said Mayor Mike Savage. "The work to house the unhoused continues. It's important work for all of us to play a role in."

Savage said the delays to opening the units stem in part from supply chain issues.

Mayor Mike Savage said he doesn't think it would be helpful to provide an estimated date for when the Halifax modular units will be able to house people. (Dave Laughlin/CBC)

A provincewide housing shortage and increases to the cost of living are making it harder for people to afford housing.

It is expected the units will be used to help house people from the Meagher Park site in the city's west end.

The encampment popped up last summer after the city evicted homeless people from public parks and green spaces, including the former Spring Garden Road library site, where police pepper-sprayed and arrested protesters.

Meagher Park is located at the corner of Chebucto Road and Dublin Street in west-end Halifax. The encampment was established last summer after the city evicted homeless people from public parks and green spaces. (Craig Paisley/CBC)

Divides at Meagher Park — also known as the People's Park — are deepening between people connected to the park and some of the people who live nearby. Some residents have complained about violence and drug use at the park.

Coun. Waye Mason said the provincial and federal governments should consider using modular housing units to help tackle homelessness. 

"This kind of modular approach and the kind of crisis we have right now requires really rapid solutions," he said.

There are modular units in Dartmouth, N.S., that started housing people in January. That site can accommodate 26 people.

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With files from Gareth Hampshire

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