‘Shelters are a Band-aid’ solution
Province needs to act on housing, not just rely on non-profit shelters to handle the fallout: Dal prof
Housing solutions are attainable thestar.com/halifax
As the icy grip of winter fills Halifax shelters to capacity, a Dalhousie University professor says government needs to do more to address the city’s growing crisis.
“We’ve been in a homeless crisis for years, regardless of whether the shelters are full or not, and the fact is that people should not be living in shelters. That should not be their home base,” said Jeff Karabanow, a professor at Dalhousie University’s School of Social Work.
Karabanow is one of the cofounders of Out of the Cold, the city’s emergency winter shelter, where he continues to volunteer.
“Shelters are a Band-aid. They’re important at the moment for the immediacy, but wow: We’re still, in 2019, thinking about this being the response?” he said.
“If it’s a downpour one day, and then the next day it’s -15 C, they’re there with wet clothes suffering through a massive cold spell. That’s really, really dangerous and unhealthy.”
Out of the Cold’s shelter director Rebecca Whitzman said the city’s shelters have already been at capacity, with several months of winter left to go.
“We’ve been full and busy as well as all of the other shelters, women and men’s (shelters) included … All of the shelter capacities are pretty full this year, and we’re having to work together to just make sure that everybody has a safe space,” she said.
“We can open as many shelters as we want, but the problem is not going to end until we get supportive housing, affordable housing.”
Karabanow agrees. He said that when Out of the Cold opened its doors 10 years ago, it was out of necessity.
“It’s important that we have a drop-in that’s open throughout the night … on these cold, cold nights, but we really should be looking at alternative solutions like more supportive housing, rooming houses that can house a number of folks that have some common areas,” he said.
“Those would be the places that people could then be able to call home.”
Karabanow said he’s also concerned by the number of new people coming through the doors.
“We’re not just seeing the same folks we’ve supported throughout the year. This is a new population. We’re seeing more families, we’re seeing more newcomers, we’re seeing an older population,” he said. Read more at thestar.com
“WE’RE SEEING MORE FAMILIES, WE’RE SEEING NEWCOMERS”
As winter bites in Halifax, more families are seeking respite, says a Dalhousie University professor. And more shelters, he says, are not the sole answer in 2019.