November 10, 2023
With the continuous news surrounding the tent encampments throughout Downtown Halifax, and yet still no solid plans from government on where those particular folks will be living in the next few months, Downtown Halifax Business Commission (DHBC) and Spring Garden Area Business Association (SGABA) have decided to take action on what they can control.
“We can control what type of tent they have; we can provide them with warm clothes, food, medication, sleeping bags, an ear to listen, and if it’s a really good week, a home,” says Lucas Goltz, Program Coordinator with Downtown Halifax’s Navigator Outreach Program. “Everyday I’m asked, ‘how can we help?’ and aside from the ‘contact your government spiel’ or the ‘if you’re a landlord, call me!’ we wanted to set something up for people to easily get involved. Being a not-for-profit, our navigator budget is limited, so any support is greatly appreciated."
Downtown Halifax's Navigator Outreach Program (DHNOP) started 14-years ago and is a partnership between DHBC and SGABA, with partial funding provided by Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM). It employs one program coordinator whose daily job is to offer direct support to the unhoused and precarious housed population in the urban core. This includes, but is not limited to, support finding employment, accessing medication, obtaining identification, providing referrals to appropriate community programs, providing gift cards for specific needs like groceries and proper camping gear, and of course, the big one - finding suitable/affordable housing.
“It's no secret that we have more unhoused people in our province than ever before, and as such some have found temporary homes in tents throughout Downtown Halifax,” says Goltz. “Do they want to be outside? No. But, we are seeing small wins daily with shelter announcements and some housing becoming available. I just want to assure they feel supported in the process. That's my goal!"