PEI

Mobile housing units to be set up in Charlottetown parking lot for homeless Islanders

Small mobile housing units will be set up in the parking lot of the COVID-19 testing site on Park Street as a temporary solution to the homeless problem in Charlottetown, the provincial government said Tuesday.

Province says units to shelter between 40 and 50 people are expected by mid-November

This is the type of mobile housing unit the P.E.I. government is ordering as a partial solution to Charlottetown's homelessness crisis. (Submitted by P.E.I. government)

Small mobile housing units will be set up in the parking lot of the COVID-19 testing site on Park Street as a temporary solution to the homeless problem in Charlottetown, the provincial government said Tuesday.

People without access to affordable housing have set up five encampments around P.E.I.'s capital this summer. With shelters full and winter approaching, provincial and municipal governments have been working on ways to move the campers to a safe and secure location.

"We needed something quick," said Matthew MacKay, P.E.I.'s minister of social development and housing. 

"The whole thought of having somebody on the street in 40-below weather with no place to go just didn't sit well."

Between 40 and 50 shelter spaces will be available in the mobile units, which will be delivered from western Canada by mid-November, MacKay said.

He said they are similar to units used by people facing homelessness in other jurisdictions, each one offering one or two bedrooms with a shared bathroom and shower.

Matthew MacKay, P.E.I.’s minister of social development and housing, says the province needed to act quickly. (Rick Gibbs/CBC)

The overall cost of bringing the units in is about $1.2 million.

The Park Street location was chosen because it sits on a large piece of government land — about 2.4 hectares — in a part of the city that has services nearby, MacKay said.

There have been consultations with Charlottetown Police Services, Maritime Electric, Holland College and the Charlottetown Area Development Corporation.

Because the units are mobile, the minister said they can be used in other locations if that becomes necessary at some point in the future.

At least five homeless encampments are sheltering about 80 people within the city of Charlottetown, the province says. (Kerry Campbell/CBC)

The Park Street location was identified as a possible location during a Charlottetown city council meeting Monday night.

"The residents down there have already got a taste of this, you know, and they're not happy," said Coun. Terry MacLeod. "What we've seen so far from the province isn't working."

MacKay said longer-term solutions for Charlottetown's homeless population will be worked out over the coming months.

The province chose the COVID-19 testing site parking lot for the new mobile housing units because of its location and size — about 2.4 hectares. (Rick Gibbs/CBC)

So far, the province has identified about 80 people experiencing homelessness in Charlottetown, he said. 

"These are individuals that are in need of help," MacKay said. "Anybody could be in that situation at any given time and we need everybody to work together to find a solution on this."

With files from Cody MacKay

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