The results of a new homeless count for the Lunenburg district paint a picture that service providers describe as an emergency.
“Right now, trends are telling us that the majority of the people we see walking through our door experiencing homelessness are families with young children,” said Lisa Ryan, executive director of the South Shore Open Doors Association (SSODA).
“The second demographic would be seniors on a fixed income.”
From late May to June, SSODA collected data on the number of people who used their services when they needed housing assistance.
Ryan says about 40 people (recorded as households) across the county have been unable to find housing, but she says the number is actually much higher.
“We have about 21 families and in that number there are 27 children,” she said.
Ryan says the growing number of children affected by homelessness in the region is a “serious concern”.
“We have a significant number of trafficking issues here and knowing that we have so many people who are in very vulnerable and vulnerable situations puts families, youth and women at greater risk of being caught in the hands of predators,” she said.
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Lunenburg West MLA Becky Druhan was not available for an interview to discuss the data, but the NSPC Caucus Office shared an emailed statement on her behalf.
“It is important to develop an understanding of the unique and specific barriers that exist in communities, and the work SSODA is doing will help provide information on how we can best meet the housing needs of South Shore residents.” can,” read the statement, which is attributed to Jordan Croucher.
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In a June 30 interview, Lunenburg City Mayor Matt Risser expressed optimism that changes to the city’s planning strategy in 2021 will encourage construction of new housing stock.
“We’ve made it more dense in terms of where people can build. We’ve allowed more lawful development, which means people only need one permit so they don’t get hung up by public hearings,” he said.
Ryan says what’s badly needed is an increase in government funds channeled into nonprofits to support housing projects, along with a direct move away from a model shelter system.
“The unfortunate thing for shelters and shelter workers is that they are expected to do the impossible. Where they are supposed to place people with insufficient funding, in inadequate buildings and insufficient resources, and yet put them in housing that doesn’t exist,” she concluded.
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Ryan says there also needs to be stronger enforcement of the province’s short-term rental registry.
“We know that with the rate at which we are losing our long-term rents to short-term stocks like Airbnb, we are rapidly increasing risk in homelessness situations,” she said.
According to the province, there are currently 1,338 short-term rentals registered with the Tourist Accommodation Registry for 2022.
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https://globalnews.ca/news/8971373/lunenburg-county-data-homelessness/ Lunenburg County Homelessness Census Shows Families With Children Are Most At Risk – Halifax