‘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



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.

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