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HALIFAX REPORT CARD ON HOMELESSNESS 2009 The First Report Card on Ending Homelessness in HRM The Halifax Report Card on Homelessness documents the current state of homelessness, using indicators that monitor changes in homelessness, housing, and income over time. The goal of the first Report Card is to profile homelessness in Halifax and to introduce some of the organizations and programs that are working to reduce the impact of homelessness. Future Report Cards will measure progress over time. This data will enable government and non-profit organizations, as well as shelter and service providers, to identify gaps in the system and develop pro-active and responsive strategies.

HOMELESSNESS DEFINED – Living on the Street – Staying overnight in a temporary shelter – Staying in places not meant for human habitation – Moving continuously among temporary housing arrangements provided by strangers, friends, or family – otherwise known as couch surfing.



source /data

Number of individuals who stayed in a shelter Number of times shelter beds were used



Average length of stay in emergency shelter [days]


Number of single men


Number of single women


Number of youth [age 16 to 19]


Number of families


Number of children under 16


Note: these numbers represent only 154 of 194 available beds.

HOUSING INDICATORS Number of Public Housing Units


Number on the Public Housing wait lists


Number of rent supplements


Rental vacancy rate


Average rent for a bachelor apartment


Average rent for a 1 bedroom apartment


Average rent for a 2 bedroom apartment


Increase in Cost of Rented Accommodation [HRM]



WHO IS AT RISK? • Families and individuals can lose their housing for any I wd Haojob, number of reasons: fleeing abuse, losing orohaving stay healthy an income too low to stay in suitable housing. witorhsubstance • Some are at risk because of mental illness out a use problems, or they may lack the life skills or ability to live on their own. • This report deals with both the homeless and the working poor by reporting on issues that affect both populations. The working poor are most at risk of becoming homeless. Community Action on Homelessness ( Sponsored by Service Canada

Income Assistance [IA] for a single person


IA Disability for a single person


Increase in Consumer Price Index '07 to '08 HRM


Average monthly # of Income Assistance cases


Minimum wage

$8.10 Note: See sources for data page 1

For more information on the contents of this report, please contact: Community Action on Homelessness 420.2186 or 420.6026

The Lonely Street

You may think that I am an old man, As I walk with shoulders bent. But once I had a young man!s dreams Now I wonder where they went. I once had a home and family But my choices forced them away. Now lonely days and tear filled nights Is the way I have to pay. The city is crowded, but we walk the streets alone It seems that you!re invisible if you don!t have a home.

Now thanks to people out there, who have shared my despair I have a beautiful place to live, and friends who really care. I!ve been down and out, despair staked its claim But like the phoenix from the ashes I shall rise again. !





! Hank Brewer

FOR YOUR REFERENCE SOURCES AND ACRONYMS ESIA Employment Support Income Assistance CMHC Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation CPP Canada Pension Plan DCS Department of Community Services GIS Guaranteed Income Supplement HIFIS Homeless Individuals and Families Information System HPS The Homelessness Partnering Strategy HRM Halifax Regional Municipality IA Income Assistance Nova Scotia Department of Finance Nova Scotia Department of Labour & Workforce Development OAS Old Age Security Statistics Canada Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) enhances Canada's housing finance options, assists Canadians who cannot afford housing in the private market, improves building standards and housing construction, and provides policy makers with the information and analysis they need to sustain a vibrant housing market in Canada.

Homeless Individuals and Families Information System (HIFIS) provides shelters and service providers with data entry and analysis software, training, and support, which enhances operational capacity. This tool allows communities to collect and analyze data on homelessness and shelter users in Canada, which is of vital local and national significance.

The Homelessness Partnering Strategy (HPS) is a government of Canada program that encourages communities to work with all levels of government, the notfor-profit sector and the private sectors to move beyond immediate and emergency needs to address the more longterm issues facing people who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.! The HPS places greater emphasis on measures to prevent and reduce homelessness, and more focus on the construction and renovation of transitional and supportive housing with related services.

DEFINITIONS Absolute homelessness – the absolute homeless are those who live on the street, in temporary shelters, or in locations not intended for human habitation. This group may also include those who must move continuously among temporary housing arrangements provided by strangers, friends, or family. The absolute homeless have no home to return to.

Affordable housing – A. Dwellings costing less than 30% of before-tax household income. Costs include [for renters]: rent and any payments for electricity, fuel, water, and other municipal services; [for owners] mortgage payments (principal and interest), property taxes and/or any condominium fees, along with payments for electricity, fuel, water, and other municipal services. B. public housing intended for low-income people and/or people with disabilities, or specific groups who cannot afford to rent a place to live at market prices. Continuum of supports approach – builds on existing programs and work already underway within communities to facilitate the coordination of services, which could include (but is not limited to) prevention and outreach, shelters and housing, support services, health care, and skills development. Chronically living on the street – a sub-population within the 'absolute homelessness' population. The term refers to those individuals or families who, because of a lack of secured housing, live on the street for a predominant period of time over the course of a year(s). These individuals or families might access some services from time to time, but will use available sheltering facilities only in exceptional circumstances (e.g. a very cold night). Emergency shelter – facility providing temporary and shortterm accommodation (from a few days up to six months) to homeless individuals or families who would otherwise sleep on the street. Typically, these facilities provide single or shared bedrooms or dormitory-type sleeping arrangements. Harm reduction – aims to prevent or reduce negative consequences of potentially dangerous lifestyles choices. Housing First – aims to provide immediate access to stable housing and the income and supports needed to keep it, prior to addressing other lifestyle issues. Median Value – For any distribution the median value (age, income, duration) is that value which divides the total into two equal parts. Supported housing – allows individuals to live independently with access to support that is not tied to any particular housing location. Supportive housing – A. long-term or permanent accommodation for people who cannot achieve or maintain housing stability independently, and who require long-term or permanent services to help them maintain an appropriate level of safety and stability while moving toward greater independence and quality of life. B. Safe, affordable housing for individuals and families that includes supports and services integrated into the housing, and with no length-of-stay duration. Transitional housing – temporary or interim accommodation that is combined with case-managed support services, aimed at helping these individuals to transition to long-term and permanent housing, self-sufficiency, and independence. Transitional housing programs normally range from weeks in duration up to three years. For information on methodologies used, see page 14.


A SNAPSHOT OF STREETS AND SHELTERS The ‘snapshot’ of streets and shelters in Halifax was conducted on the night of November 12th and the morning of November 13th, 2008, by Community Action on Homelessness with the help of 30 volunteers. The purpose of conducting the 'snapshot' survey was not to arrive at a single number which would quantify homelessness in Halifax, but to explore the characteristics and experiences of homeless people in the HRM. A one-page survey was administered to individuals in 6 Halifax shelters, 7 metro resource centres and 10 street areas in downtown Halifax and downtown Dartmouth. In total, 140 people who were without a home participated in the survey. The following analysis is based on the responses from those 140 people. For more information on this 'Snapshot Project', contact SAMPLE CHARACTERISTICS location surveyed

street shelter drop-in

16% 61% 22%


male female

69% 31%

age groupings

16 to 24 25 to 39 40 to 49 50 to 83

27% 30% 20% 23%

cultural/racial identity1

first nations caucasian african canadian other 2

10% 75% 8% 9%

place of birth

HRM Nova Scotia other province outside Canada

46% 20% 33% 2%

0 to 3 months 3 months to 1 year 1 to 4 years 4 to 10 years more than 10 years

22% 10% 24% 15% 28%

length of time in HRM

NOTE We estimate that the number of homeless people in the HRM on November 12 & 13 was 213. This number was calculated using data collected from HIFIS, from shelter staff, and from self-reporting homeless individuals themselves. It should also be noted that 213 is not an accurate count of the homeless in Halifax at that specific time, but rather the best estimate we can make using the various resources available during that time period.

PATTERNS OF HOMELESSNESS Where did you sleep last night?

shelter couch-surfing sleeping rough 1 hospital

72% 17% 10% 1%

How long without shelter or your own place?

less than a month 1 to 6 months 6 months to 1 year more than 1 year

40% 33% 11% 15%

Period of time homeless?

one time two times +

17% 83%

1 Sleeping

rough includes individuals who indicated that they stayed in a car, garage, or public building, on the street or in a squat, or in an ATM, coffee shop or a private building.

Ho lo


Respondents were able to identify with more than one racial or cultural group, therefore the total percentage could be more than 100%. 2

Those included in the 'other' category did not specify a cultural background and could not be recorded in either of the three main categories of cultural identification. Those who identified as 'other', but indicated the 'other' to be of European origin [e.g. Dutch or Irish] were included in the Caucasian category.

2 2

Homelessness affects people from a variety of Community Action Homelessness ( backgrounds!and for a on variety of reasons.! The experience of!being homeless!is dependent on!a combination of personal and institutional factors.!





16 to 24 years old 25 to 39 years old 40 to 49 years old 50 to 83 years old

21% 31% 21% 27%

41% 27% 20% 12%

single couple

95% 5%

79% 21%

homeless less than a month homeless 1 to 6 months homeless 6 months to 1 year homeless more than 1 year

30% 28% 20% 22%

53% 39% 0% 8%

shelter couch-surfing sleeping rough hospital

68% 18% 13% 1%

80% 15% 5% 0%


Based on survey responses, the experiences of homeless men and women are different on several key indicators. • Of homeless women surveyed, 41% were between the ages of 16 and 24, compared to 21% of homeless men surveyed. • 21% of women indicated that they were in a relationship, compared to 5% of men. • Of the men in this sample, 22% had been homeless for more than a year, compared to 8% of women. • 80% of homeless women surveyed stayed in a shelter the night before, compared to 68% of men.



Of the homeless youth surveyed • 53% were male and 47% were female. • 28% indicated that they were in a relationship. • 47% were from HRM, 12% from elsewhere in Nova Scotia, and 38% from elsewhere in Canada. • 60% indicated that they used shelters. "People passing by us is the hardest. I sat for eight hours on the street with food poisoning and all I made is three bucks. The reactions and the attitudes are the hardest – 'Why don't you get a job?' Disrespect from the business owners, they sent me away, out to the rain. "





male female

53% 47%

72% 28%

70% 30%

83% 17%

single couple

72% 28%

95% 5%

96% 4%

100% 0%

HRM Nova Scotia other province outside of Canada

47% 12% 38% 3%

35% 32% 30% 3%

59% 15% 26% 0%

48% 22% 30% 0%

shelter couch-surfing sleeping rough hospital

60% 26% 14% 0%

70% 16% 14% 0%

85% 4% 11% 0%

77% 17% 3% 3%

2009 Street Health Report respondent

REASONS FOR HOMELESSNESS When asked why they were currently homeless, respondents gave a variety of answers. The breakdown of responses is shown at right. See page 14 for notes on methodology.


no income


can't find accommodation


family conflict




substance abuse


released from treatment or facility


other reason

0% 5% 10% 15% 20% 25%



How do I raise my family without a

A POVERTY REDUCTION STRATEGY FOR NOVA SCOTIA Homelessness is influenced by inadequate income support and welfare programs that keep people well below the poverty line. This population is also at the mercy of higher housing and energy costs, inadequate tax benefits for low income families, and low wages that contribute to higher numbers of the working poor. Homelessness is also affected by the failure of health and social services to address issues that compound the risk of homelessness—mental health issues, addictions, or the dislocation and trauma arising from sexual abuse, child neglect, family violence, or military conflict. The increase in homelessness in Canada indicates the failure of our social policies and programs to meet basic needs, and to deal with the problem of poverty. The Framework for a Poverty Reduction Strategy in Nova Scotia, developed by the Poverty Reduction Strategy Coalition of Nova Scotia (now called the Community Coalition to End Poverty in Nova Scotia), calls for a holistic strategy that recognizes the multiple sources of poverty, and the need for stronger income security and social programs. The framework has 6 goals and objectives: 1. Universal access and better co-ordination of policies, programs and services. 2. A social safety net that enables families and individuals to meet their basic needs and empowers them to participate fully in the social and economic benefits of society. 3. Entitle all residents to a liveable income, decent working conditions, and employment benefits. 4. End child poverty and establish a comprehensive, accessible, co-ordinated early childhood development strategy. 5. A better-educated population. 6. Communicate the causes and consequences of poverty. This Framework can be accessed at Some members of the Community Coalition to End Poverty in Nova Scotia (CCEP-NS) participated in the Poverty Reduction Working Group (Bill-94), a legislated, province-wide committee tasked to prepare a report for Government by June 30, 2008. The mandate was to make recommendations on strategies and priorities (for action to be considered by the Government) to address the issue of poverty reduction in the Province, including an implementation plan. The completed report was submitted on June 30th and it is available on the Government’s web site ( poverty/documents/ Poverty_Reduction_Working_Group_Report.pdf CCEP-NS and other community organizations and individuals are eager to hear Government’s response to the recommendations and implementation plan submitted.

4 4

Pay the rent or feed the kids? As the cost of housing, relative to income, rises for low income earners, less money is available for other necessities such as food. The use of food banks reflects the fact that many households are facing significant economic problems and are thus vulnerable to homelessness. Community Action on Homelessness ( Sponsored by Service Canada

CMHC ON AFFORDABILITY What is meant by core housing need? "Core housing need" refers to households which are unable to afford shelter that meets adequacy, suitability, and affordability norms. The norms have been adjusted over time to reflect the housing expectations of Canadians. Affordability, one of the elements used to determine core housing need, is recognized as a maximum of 30 per cent of the gross household income spent on shelter and heat. What is the common definition of affordability? The cost of adequate shelter should not exceed 30% of household income. Housing which costs less than this is considered affordable.

"Lack of dignity, not able to feel normal and have the basics - food & shelter. Wishing I didn't have to feel like I beg for everything… not knowing one day to the next how I am going to get by." !

2009 Street Health Report respondent

The following graph illustrates that - according to CMHC's 30% rule - not only those working at minimum wage are struggling to afford accommodations in the Halifax Regional Municipality. TYPE OF WORK



1 BED $683

2 BED $833

trades helper






food counter attendant


















teacher assistant






retail salesperson






graphic designer






early childhood worker






community/social service worker


! !




! !








policy or research officer statistical clerk

3 BED + $1,064

Sources: and CMHC

A significant percentage of your income going towards housing? The table above demonstrates the reality that even people working for more than minimum wage can find themselves spending over 30% of their gross income on rent. Nova Scotia currently has the second lowest average weekly earnings in the country. The minimum wage rate (adjusted for inflation) is still below what it was in 1977 when it reached its peak. Currently, an individual working 40 hours per week at minimum wage would have to pay 43% of their gross salary for an average bachelor apartment.

Low-income households Low income “cut-offs” (LICOs) refer to the income level below which households spend more than 50 percent of their income on food, shelter and clothing. The “cutoffs” are based on household and community size. In 2005, 17,465 households in HRM paid more than 50% of their income on housing. Source: Federation of Canadian Municipality's Quality of Life Reporting System

Media attention to the issue has helped to educate the public about the challenges and injustice of poverty, and to bring poverty into sharper focus as a pressing issue for the province. The Chronicle Herald recently ran a series of articles on the reality of people living in poverty. Contact CAH for more on this series and other coverage.

A power point presentation that can be adapted to local community issues is available through Community Action on Homelessness for groups interested in community education on poverty. See details at

Why a 30% threshold? Households have many demands on their income, including providing for basic needs like food, shelter, and clothing. In low income households especially, the more spent on shelter, the less is available for other basic needs. But to be productive and contributing members of society, people also need the financial means to be included in that society. Inclusion means access to social and economic activities and transportation to get there. So spending only on basics, or having to make a choice between food and rent, reduces low income households' ability to participate in the broader society. "Growing up in Canada, I did not even know the word 'homeless' or 'food bank'. And now so many people depend on it. There are lots of factors: population growth, cheaper foods disappearing, and not enough affordable housing to go around." 2009 Street Health Report respondent


THE HOUSING PICTURE – DO THE MATH HOUSING IS ONLY AFFORDABLE IF IT CONSUMES LESS THAN 30% OF INCOME Many Nova Scotians are at risk of becoming homeless because they are economically insecure and are thus extremely vulnerable in an economic downturn. These include people who earn minimum wage, or who work part-time at temporary jobs, without benefits. Especially at risk are those who are already disadvantaged by discrimination or other barriers to equal opportunities for both employment and pay, including the disabled, Aboriginals, immigrants, and women. For example, on average, women earn 30% less than men for work of a comparable nature. Median Income in HRM in 2005 MALES




Many families and individuals in Halifax struggle to pay the rent, and face decisions about which costs to cover – food? shelter? heat? Those Haligonians who are relying on income assistance from the provincial government do not receive enough to pay for these basic necessities. The other people who are in vulnerable housing situations are seniors on fixed incomes, and all those who are living on a low-income.

• In addition to the maximum shelter allowance of $300, a single adult receiving income assistance would need the equivalent of 144% of their personal allowance to afford to rent a bachelor apartment. • In addition to the maximum shelter allowance of $535, a person with disabilities receiving income assistance would spend 30% of their personal allowance on a bachelor apartment. • Someone who is receiving the average Employment Insurance benefits would need to spend 48% of their income on a one bedroom apartment. • A senior who only receives OAS and GIS would have to spend 64% of their total income for a bachelor apartment.

THOSE WITH INCOME SOURCES AS NOTED BELOW MUST PAY MORE THAN 30% FOR HOUSING, AT AVERAGE MARKET ACCOMMODATION COSTS. This means accommodations are often at the lowest end of the rental market and do not meet needs such as quality, safety, work accessibility, and amenities.


unit size

average market rent

MONTHLY INCOME SOURCE [for one adult, except as noted]

min. wage at 40 hrs/wk monthly

disability [average CPP]

OAS plus GIS

EI average $330.88/wk

Income Assistance [IA]

IA disability for single adult









1 bedroom








2 bedroom


$2106 * 1 f/t worker 1 p/t worker 1 child

$911.00 1 parent 1 child

* based on 20 hour P/T week. None of these figures include Child Tax Benefit.

See sources, page 1

"It is all the running around you have to do to get basic needs met. Your shelter has to come first and you’re on the street all day long just trying to scrape up a few dollars to survive. Shelter has to come first." 2009 Street Health Report respondent

6 6





1 BED.


2 BED.


rent; own; board




3 BED.


hospital: 30 days or more




residential rehab program




The living wage that would be needed for current rental prices for 1-income household Above figures based on 40 hr/wk X 52 wks. Current min. wage $8.10



DEPENDENT under 18

DEPENDENT 18 to 20




1 person



2 persons



1 person – disability [or special circumstances]*

$535 *Source: Dept. of Community Services: ESIA policies 5.5.1 and 5.4.1

THE CANADA-NOVA SCOTIA AFFORDABLE HOUSING AGREEMENT The first phase of the Canada-Nova Scotia affordable housing agreement (2002) called for federal funding of $18.63 million, with a matching contribution from the province and third parties – a total of $37.26 million. This deal was supposed to create or renovate up to 1,500 new affordable homes. [This is an average per-unit subsidy of just less than $25,000.] The second phase of the Canada-Nova Scotia affordable housing agreement (2005) called for federal funding of $9.46 million, with a matching provincial/third party contribution, for a total of $18.92 million. There was no specific unit target, but the perunit subsidy was increased to $75,000 – so the second phase would deliver up to 250 new homes. Therefore, the overall housing totals are 1,750 new or renovated homes from 2002 to 2009. Total investments from the federal and provincial governments and third parties were $56.18 million. THE TRACK RECORD • As of March 31, 2006, the Government of Nova Scotia announced that it had completed work on 143 homes (8% of the total), and that 405 homes were in various stages of development. • An earlier report (2004/05) noted that, of 203 new homes that had been funded to that point, 114 (56%) were in the “home ownership preservation program”. This is far higher than the original target of no more than 25% for home ownership. Source: The Wellesley Institute, Toronto

AFFORDABLE HOUSING DEVELOPMENTS IN HRM – FUNDING SOURCES AND OWNERSHIP Since 1999, a total of 308 affordable, self-contained, rental units (and 60 shelter beds) have been added to HRM’s affordable housing stock, with an additional 136 units under construction as of December 2008. A breakdown of the funding sources for, and ownership of, these units is as follows: Bilateral Affordable Housing Agreement [Private or Non-Profit Ownership] ! 181 units with an additional 40 under construction Affordable Housing Trust Fund [Publicly Owned] ! 43 units with an additional 70 under construction Federal Supporting Communities Partnering Initiative (SCIPI) Homelessness Partnering Strategy (HPS) [Non-Profit Ownership] ! 74 units with an additional 20 under construction ! 60 shelter beds Partnership between Bilateral Affordable Housing Agreement & SCIPI [Non-Profit Ownership] ! 10 units Source: Dept. of Community Services, Halifax 7


THE 2009 HALIFAX STREET HEALTH REPORT The following analysis is based on data collected from the Street Health Report, which was administered to 158 homeless people in Halifax by Community Action on Homelessness over a two week period in early 2009. The Street Health survey consisted of 242 questions related to the physical and mental well being of these individuals, along with questions related to nutrition, sexual health, access to healthcare, and living conditions in the shelters and on the streets.

Looking at the contributing factors of chronic and serious illness in the current analyses, length of time homeless was the key contributing factor. Only 20% of the entire sample reported no chronic conditions. The length of time homeless had significant implications for an individual’s physical health – the longer a person was homeless, the more chronic and serious illnesses they experienced.

Demographic breakdown of sample group


Gender! Age! ! Race!! !! ! !! ! !! ! Origin! !! ! !! ! Orientation! !! !

75% male (118), 25% female (40) 18% youth (28), 82% not youth (130) 72% white (114) 11% first nations (18) 11% black (17) 6% other (9) 45% from HRM (70) 48% from elsewhere in Canada (75) 7% international (11) 88% heterosexual (138) 12% lesbian/gay/bisexual (19)

# of chronic conditions

less than 1 year

1 to 2.99 years

3 to 9.99 years

10 years or more

6 5 4 3 2 1



anxiety disorders


mood disorders


personality disorders


schizophrenia substance-related

ADHD & learning disorders anxiety disorders mood disorders personality disorders





60% 50% 40% 30% 20% 10% NOTE (DSM-IV) mood disorders: bipolar, manic, and depressive disorders anxiety disorders: anxiety, panic, phobia, and post-traumatic stress personality disorders: multiple, borderline, anti-social, obsessive-compulsive learning disorders: dyslexia, global developmental delay








30% 40%













3% 22%

chronic bronchitis or emphysema cirrhosis


congestive heart failure






fetal alcohol syndrome



3% 21%

hearing problems heart attack


heart disease


hepatitis B


hepatitis C


high blood pressure



37% 8%

other liver problems physical handicap


skin disease






vision problems


"I did not see a doctor when I did not have a place. A shelter is just a shelter when you are homeless, and your top priority is to find a place, and not your health." 2009 Street Health Report respondent

A breakdown of chronic and serious illnesses reported among the homeless population. On average, individuals reported suffering from three serious health conditions out of a possible 29.

“The lifestyle of homeless youth places their health at risk, and the longer a person is homeless, the worse his or her health becomes. The street youth interviewed stated that they usually had multiple health problems exacerbated by cold, hunger, poor housing, poor diets and the high risk behaviors they engaged in to survive. Young people stated that they often cannot find any food and...go hungry.” -

Exploring Salient Issues of Youth Homelessness in Halifax, Nova Scotia, 2004, Dr. Jeff Karabanow

CONSIDERED OR ATTEMPTED SUICIDE 48% of the whole sample indicated that they had seriously considered suicide at some point in their lives. Of those individuals – 74% said they had attempted suicide at some point in their lives. – 61% of these said they had considered suicide in the past 12 months – 43% had attempted suicide in the past 12 months.

The complete Halifax Street Health Report will be released in summer 2009. These pages provide some of the highlights related to respondents' physical and mental health. See page 14 for notes on Street Health Report methodology.


CONNECTIONS – HOME AND HEALTH THE RIGHT TO A BASIC NUTRITIOUS DIET A nutritious diet and affordable shelter are basic building blocks of health, and are out of reach for many Nova Scotians. Spending more than 30% of your income on housing indicates a vulnerability to homelessness, but it also means that people have very little money to pay for other necessities, such as food. The 127% increase in demand for emergency food relief in Nova Scotia since 1997 tells us that many people are unable to afford food. Each month, more than 40,000 Nova Scotians use a local food bank and other food programs. Of those who used food banks in Nova Scotia in 2006, 53.9% received income assistance, 9.4% represented the working poor, and 13.3% received disability support. FEED Nova Scotia Fast Facts 2006-07, Feed Nova Scotia (2007)

REPORT OF THE POVERTY REDUCTION WORKING GROUP The report on poverty reduction was submitted by the legislated Poverty Reduction Working Group (Bill-94) to the Minister of the Department of Community Services and the Minister of Labour and Workforce Development in June 2008. (See page 4 of this report.) The report included an implementation plan with recommended action strategies. The actions, excerpted from the report, follow below. Actions from Implementation Plan: Health • The Province must review and implement recommendations from the Cost and Affordability of a Nutritious Diet in Nova Scotia report. • The Province must expedite the shift to a prevention and promotion model. All Nova Scotians must recognize that investment in people through anti-poverty measures will lead to healthy outcomes and reduce health care costs. • The Province must consolidate and enhance the existing Pharmacare programs in the province. Actions from Implementation Plan: Housing • The Province must undertake a review of its housing policy to ensure housing assistance actually assists in reducing poverty. This review must result in a Housing Strategy linked to the Poverty Reduction Strategy. This strategy must address: – policies which support the capacity of non-profit housing organizations to purchase existing property and therefore preserve longer term affordability. – need for an increased range and availability of transitional, supportive, as well as social housing to address the needs of the most vulnerable. – homeownership programs that are more flexible and include programs to educate citizens on how to access affordable energy and entry level home ownership

"The stigma of the situation (being in a shelter) challenges the ability to move on. Degrading to be here [the shelter]." !





2009 Street Health Report respondent

– targeted rent supplement programs in specific areas, including portable rent supplements. • The Province must develop a policy to revitalize and regenerate areas that experience concentrated poverty and distress. • The Province must advocate for a National Housing Strategy.

MOBILE OUTREACH STREET HEALTH Mobile Outreach Street Health is a community developed program that will operate out of the North End Community Health Centre. The NECHC has been strongly committed to outreach, and working to better the health status of those most vulnerable in our community. MOSH will have a team of nursing, social work, and physician support. The teams will visit shelters, soup kitchens, and local drop-in centers. It will also have a street presence, and accompany already existing outreach organizations like Stepping Stone and Mainline. Teams will be offering healthcare during 12 hour shifts Monday to Friday, and will be offering outreach services on Sundays from 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM. MOSH will be working closely with agencies and other health professionals in caring for mutual clients. The MOSH team will provide an opportunity to those living in shelters or precarious situations to have the holistic, comprehensive care that is needed to address the health issues associated with homelessness. The support of the Department of Health, Capital District Health Authority, and a charitable donation from Frontline Health has allowed this service to be initiated. There is ongoing consultation with these agencies, as well as with three individuals who have at some point in their lives been a part of the community MOSH will serve.



The Federal Government announced the allocation of $110 million in 2007 to the Mental Health Commission of Canada to find ways to help the growing number of homeless people with mental illness.

A case manager with the Supportive Community Outreach Team (SCOT), from Capital Health, has been going to Metro Turning Point Shelter once a week since June 2008.

Research projects will occur over five years and develop a body of evidence to enable Canada to become a world leader in providing services to homeless people living with a mental illness. One of the five research projects is Moncton, NB.

Their role is to engage individuals at the shelter and to inform them about community resource or mental health programs available, to link these individuals with possible housing opportunities, and to provide basic support. This is done in collaboration with the staff of Metro Turning Point, Shared Care (North End Community Health Centre), and various Mental Health Programs.

72% of the homeless people surveyed for the Street Health Report indicated experiencing serious depression and anxiety at least once in their lifetime. 53% had one or more clinical mental health diagnoses at the time surveyed.

A Community Mental Health Nurse from Capital Health provides mental health services to shelters in HRM as part of Shared Care (NECHC.) She regularly visits the shelters and has built up trust over the years with individuals and shelter staff. As well, the Mental Health Mobile Crisis Team of Capital Health provides crisis support for children, youth and adults experiencing a mental health crisis. The Team also provides this support in shelters in HRM.

"Homelessness should not be a problem. Everyone should have a place to live and food to eat. If they have a problem, an individual has to realize it for themselves. I started abusing drugs at 15...until 35 years old. Turned to drugs to experiment and to fit in, and then became addicted. Let's take care of our own backyard. There is a need for more housing and there is a need for more jobs." 2009 Street Health Report respondent

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SERVICES FOR VULNERABLE POPULATIONS In 2003 a research study was conducted in Halifax exploring interrelated aspects of youth homelessness: the salient issues confronting homeless youth, and public attitudes towards homeless youth.

How thro

In addition to providing a demographic study of street youth in Halifax, the report identified important issues regarding how youth experience street life. The research also focused on services [available and lacking] for youth in Halifax. Youth identified the need for a shelter that would better suit their needs. The report provides recommendations, for the public and for government, to address the complex issues facing youth homelessness. Transitional housing and long term support in Halifax would be steps in the right direction. Key research findings show that what youth want is a conventional lifestyle: one with a home, a family, and a job; and that there is public support from a large majority for more services for homeless youth such as shelters, drop-in centers, and health clinics. Current legislation allows the province to 'emancipate' young people who are in the government's care at 16 years of age.1 What is not commonly talked about alongside this fact is that they then face restrictions when trying to access the basic necessities of living – housing, employment, or income assistance. Generally, the eligible age for income assistance is 19, and those individuals under 19 are often denied housing due to their age – this leaves young people 'hanging in the balance' for three years. A recent research project (Working within the Formal and Informal Economies: How Homeless Youth Survive in Neo-liberal Times, Karabanow et al.) finds that it is during this time that young people may become engaged in unlawful and/ or illegal work – squeegeeing, panhandling, busking, or other commonly criminalized means of making money. It is often only through these activities that youth can sustain themselves while current social policies and institutional systems do not meet their needs. Often, street-involved and homeless youth are considered delinquent or deviant, yet if we look more closely we can see how systems and policies often leave them to fend for themselves. 1

ESIA Policy Section 10 5.10.1 and CFSA 14.2 and Policy Section 19

Prevention and Treatment Services, NS Dept. of Health Promotion and Protection Adolescent services offers a comprehensive array of age-appropriate programs and services designed to meet the unique substance-use and gambling-related needs of adolescents, aged 13 to 19. These services include specialized community and school-based health promotion, prevention, early intervention and treatment programs. Trained adolescent services staff work in schools throughout most of the province and community based counseling services are also provided to Community Action on Homelessness ( help adolescents and their families. Services are also available to youth who are affected by others’ substance abuse problems. In addition to community and school based services, the specialized provincial adolescent treatment program CHOICES offers a residential component for youth who require additional structure and support. The program consists of a school component, group work, individual counseling, family counseling, recreation and leisure programming and parent education programs.

“Many of these youth have experienced hardship and abuse in their family. Some have come through the child welfare system, and many are struggling with health problems related to street life. Street youth face far more risks to their own safety that they pose to the public’s safety.” Exploring Salient Issues of Youth Homelessness in Halifax, Nova Scotia, 2004, Dr. Jeff Karabanow





Nova Scotia women who are visibly homelessness stay in emergency shelters or transition houses, or sleep rough in places unfit for human habitation. Many women, however, also experience hidden homelessness, by temporarily staying with friends or family, staying with a man only in order to obtain shelter, and living in houses where they are subject to family conflict or violence. Women who live in unaffordable housing and illegal or unsafe housing are also at risk, and Aboriginal women are disproportionately represented in this population. What is needed to decrease women’s homelessness in rural & urban Nova Scotia?


What A TREATMENT PROGRAM hap180, pen located to in north-end meHalifax, was the willDirection first low-threshold, community-based methadone my Canada. Since its program sein Atlantic lo I n he wmaintenance inception in 2001, the program has assessed and/or

treated over 550 individuals. At present, Direction 180 has 167 active clients – 60 females and 107 males – 74 visiting the site daily, 27 having daily witnessed ingestion at pharmacies in the community, and 38 having “carry” privileges (take-away doses). All programs and services provided at Direction 180 are guided by a multi-disciplinary team, which includes a physician, registered nurses, and a pharmacist, with expert advise and guidance from collaborative partners including the Infectious Disease Clinic, QEII Health Sciences Hematology Clinic, Shared Care Mental Health, and the North End Community Health Center, along with other ancillary support services. Working with opiate addicts at street level, and providing them with access to methadone (and hence a measure of stability in their lives), Direction 180 gives clients a foundation upon which to rebuild their lives. They are also given access to primary health care, harm reduction counseling and support, and a range of other services. This approach has resulted in a significant reduction in opiate use, needle use, needle sharing and the potential transmission of HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis C and other blood borne pathogens. In addition, a critical component of the program’s past and ongoing success is the peer-driven, user-directed approach. This is the employment of recovering addicts to provide supportive counseling services to our clients, while at the same time offering drug consumption expertise to members of the treatment team. The staff are committed to supporting clients in making healthier lifestyle choices, and improving the quality of life within a harm reduction philosophy.

! • Federal and provincial government legislative and policy responses that include a National and Provincial Poverty Reduction Strategy ! • Increases in Employment Supports and Income Assistance to a level that meet"s women"s nutritional, personal care, training, and housing needs ! • A more responsive Employment Insurance (EI) program that takes into consideration seasonal work • A continuum of safe affordable housing, including supportive and supported housing, and mixed social housing With an active waiting list of 65 individuals, there is ! • Literacy training, education, job skills, and re-entry an urgent need for Direction 180 to expand its client programs base. However, current funding is not sufficient to ! • Affordable childcare meet this need. ! • Access to affordable transportation Community Action on Homelessness ( Sponsored by Service Canada ! • Substance use supports and services, including DIRECTION 180 CLIENTS culturally appropriate services – 15% are currently experiencing homelessness ! • Mental Health supports and services, including – 100% are poly-drug addicted culturally appropriate services – 75% have concurrent mental health issues. ! • Increased Violence and Abuse supports and – 35% are currently not using services, including culturally appropriate services – 89% receive social assistance ! • Outreach Networks that reduce women"s isolation, – 20% are currently in correctional facilities increase connections to supports, and stop the – 10% have HIV and 70% have HCV cycle of homelessness.




Snapshot Analysis Methodology

Street Health Report Methodology

On the evening of November 12 and in the morning of November 13, 30 volunteers plus participating shelter staff administered the “Snapshot of Streets and Shelters” survey in the downtown areas of Halifax and Dartmouth. In total, 140 people who participated in the survey self identified as homeless and are included in the analyses on pages 2 and 3.

Between January 13 and January 23, 2009, 23 volunteers and CAH staff administered the Street Health Survey to 158 individuals who identified as being “homeless”. In this analysis, homeless means being without a home for at least 10 of the previous 90 days prior to being interviewed. Respondents were interviewed as they were accessing services at 6 Halifax emergency shelters and 7 resource centres, and were given a $15 honorarium for their participation.

For the purposes of this short analysis, the sample of homeless people included: those who stayed in one of 6 participating emergency shelters on the night of November 12; those using one of the 7 participating resource centres who self-identified as not having a place to call their own for the night; and those who slept rough on the streets and in public places of downtown Halifax and Dartmouth and who self-identified (as above). The survey instrument was a one-page questionnaire with 14 questions querying: place of birth, the immediate reason for no shelter, whether respondents attempted to access shelter and what happened when they did, where respondents stayed ‘last night’, how long without shelter, how many times homeless, regular source of income, selfreported health and accessing treatment, ethnic background, age, gender, family status and number of dependent children staying with respondent. For further information on Snapshot data collection procedures, the survey instrument, or the analysis presented in this Report Card, please contact Community Action on Homelessness.


The survey instrument was developed by Street Health in Toronto, Ontario and adapted for the Halifax context. It consisted primarily of close-ended questions on demographic factors, participant’s health and well-being, health determinants, lifestyle factors, and access to care and services. The full Halifax Street Health Report will be issued by Community Action on Homelessness in the summer of 2009. For further information on the Street Health Report data collection procedures, the survey instrument, or the analysis presented in this Report Card, please contact Community Action on Homelessness.

Petition in Support of a National Housing Strategy To the House of Commons in Parliament Assembled Whereas access for every Canadian to safe, decent, and affordable housing is an essential component of having healthy, prosperous, safe, and inclusive communities. We the undersigned support a National Housing Strategy within the framework of a National Poverty Reduction Strategy. This National Housing Strategy must include a long-term funding commitment in order that all low-income Canadians, including those on social assistance, can have access to a safe and decent place to live at a price they can afford. Name (Print)

Full Address


No Postage Necessary

Office of the Prime Minister 80 Wellington Street Ottawa K1A 0A2

EMERGENCY Police/Fire/Ambulance 911 Mobile Crisis Intervention Services 429-8167 Youth Help Line (24-hour) 420-8336 Kid’s Help Line (24-hour) 1-800-668-6868 Parent Help Line (24-hour) 1-888-603-9100 Avalon Sexual Assault Response Line (24-hour) 422-4240 (after hours) 425-0122

The first Halifax Report Card on Homelessness is produced by The Community Action on Homelessness Report Card Working Group. This group includes concerned individuals, first voice, non-profit leaders, and all levels of government who are committed to preventing and reducing homelessness in Halifax. We would like to thank: Adsum for Women and Children Alice Housing

SHELTERS Adsum House – women and their children 2421 Brunswick Street, Halifax 429-4443 /423-4443

Atlantic Centre of Excellence for Women's Health Brunswick Street Mission Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation

Barry House – women and their children 1050 Wellington Street, Halifax 422-8324

Capital District Youth Navigator Program

Bryony House – abused women & their children Address confidential 422-7650

Dalhousie University

Marguerite Centre – addiction recovery (women) Address confidential 876-0006

Capital District Health Authority Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives NS Direction 180 Department of Health Department of Community Services First Voice participants

Metro Turning Point – men 2170 Barrington Street, Halifax 420-3282

Halifax Regional Municipality

Phoenix Youth Shelter – youth 1094 Tower Road, Halifax 446-4663

North End Community Health Centre

HIFIS [Nova Scotia] Metro Non-profit Housing Association Nova Scotia Advisory Council on the Status of Women

Salvation Army – men 2044 Gottingen Street, Halifax 422-2363

Public Good Society of Dartmouth Transition House Association of Nova Scotia

COMMUNITY SERVICES - INCOME ASSISTANCE Halifax 424-4150 Dartmouth 424-1600 Metro Regional Housing Authority 420-6000 DROP-IN CENTRES AND SOUP KITCHENS Brunswick Street United Church 2107 Brunswick Street, Halifax 423-4605 OTHER SERVICES Halifax Housing Help 423-0722 Supportive Community Outreach Team (SCOT) 429-8167 Mobile Outreach Street Health (MOSH) 802-9696

YWCA Halifax

We would like to acknowledge the contributions from all staff of the shelters, soup kitchens, and resource centres in Halifax who welcomed CAH volunteers to conduct survey interviews. As well, we would like to acknowledge the 50 [plus] volunteers that contributed their time and expertise to this process by serving on the Report Card Working Group or Sub-Committees, volunteering to conduct surveys, and/or providing support to CAH in either the development or research for the report card. We would especially like to thank the first voice contributors that stepped forward and shared personal information about their life experience.

"Homelessness is not a complex issue...we know what the solutions are... ! ! ! adequate housing, adequate income, and adequate support services."

David Hulchanski, Professor of Housing & Community Development, University of Toronto

WHY HASN'T HOMELESSNESS ENDED YET? Community Action on Homelessness responds… WE NEED TO COMMIT TO POLICIES THAT WORK! the Federal level 1. Create a National Housing Strategy that clearly defines direct federal responsibility for funding affordable housing, supportive housing, and supported housing. 2. Put in place long-term and sustained funding to support our community’s capacity to end homelessness. 3. Increase significantly the rates of, and access to, federal income support programs: Employment Insurance, Canadian Pension Plan, Old Age Security, and the Guaranteed Income Supplement. the Provincial level 1. Increase the amount of provincial funding for affordable housing, supportive housing, and supported housing. 2. Increase mental health and addictions services to meet the current need for services. 3. Increase Income Assistance and Income Assistance Disability Support Program benefits, tying the rates to actual average rents in the community. 4. Increase the minimum wage to a living wage. 5. Develop a 'poverty reduction strategy' that includes affordable housing. the Municipal level 1. Ensure policies are aligned with Federal & Provincial levels of government and be willing to partner. 2. Commit resources to support community non-profit housing projects. (e.g, support to non-profit housing providers through project grants, tax and fee exemptions, land donations.) 3. Fast track affordable housing applications.

Canada is the only major country in the world without a National Housing Strategy Source: Wellesley Insitute, Toronto

YOU CAN HELP! WELCOME all types of housing in your neighbourhood – affordable, supportive, and supported housing. CONTACT your MP, MLA, and City Councillor about what needs to be done – phone, email, send them letters! CONTINUE your generous donations of time, skills, energy, or money. VISIT us at for more information on homelessness in Halifax, and for other ways to help.

MINISTERS RESPONSIBLE FOR HOUSING Prime Minister's Office F 613-941-6900

Diane Finley, Minister HRSDC T 613-996-4974 F 613-996-9749

Chris d'Entremont, Minister DCS T 902-648-2020 F 902-648-2001