Q & A Jan 2024 with a Reporter on the Tiny Shelter Village for Kentville
How do you foresee the Tiny Shelter Village (Kentville) helping to address homelessness or a general lack of housing in the area?
To address homelessness across the Annapolis Valley, requires a multifaceted approach. All parties, Municipalities, Developers, Nonprofit Organizations, Community-Based Services and Supports, the Provincial and Federal Government, need to work with one vision and a connected strategy. NS will need to work hard to reach the shortfall of housing units (see chart below), as we’ve not invested in building for the last 20 years. We have not kept up with inflation, growth, and immigration. To address homelessness there needs to be various housing options pursued, including accessory dwelling suites, multi unit, mixed market housing, non-market housing, host homes, or supported in-home care for those that need some extra support, supportive living programs for various ages, and at varying levels of need. Municipalities need to accelerate their process and allow an increase of density in towns and villages. Addressing homelessness is a complicated issue and building more housing is an involved and complicated process. This Tiny Shelter Village will establish a pilot or a model of what transitional housing can look like in a community. It is one approach that is needed and address a need that other supports/services can not meet.
Will this fill a void in accommodation or services currently being offered in the area, or offer help in a way that currently isn’t available?
I think it will both fill the void and offer more robust support for those that do not have family or friends that they can stay with. The Tiny Shelter Village would provide a community for those that do not have a community. Several agencies across the valley have been working very well together for the last 10 years, ensuring that our approach is collaborative, sharing resources, and with the best practices with the most vulnerable in mind. There have been great strides made through the Homeless No More Initiative where we’ve seen collaborative tables established for youth, and now a collaborative table established for adults. The Coordinated Access system of prioritizing housing for the most vulnerable with a consistent measure of acuity is also a part of the solution. Bringing the services to the clients and the community is vital. When agencies are less concerned about who is providing what, and making sure that the approach is holistic, then we’ve gained some traction in terms of what needs to happen. It’s not about fitting the client into the service but about fitting the services around the client. The Tiny Shelter Village is going to address a very specific demographic of people that are already here and struggling. Those individuals are our neighbours… they’re already in our community, and they are struggling with episodic homelessness or continued struggle with remaining housed. The great thing about the Tiny Shelter Village approach is that it is a cluster of single units and specific supports on site. It’s one of the solutions of many. The design of it would mean there’s adequate support for the people that need it most. Our collaborative team of frontline people across agencies will be best positioned to assess who needs this type of transitional housing and support. The approach is trauma informed, human centered, safe for all involved, and full staffed withy well trained personnel.
Recently, The Portal, Community Inclusion Society, Valley Community Learning Association, CMHA Project Hope, Open Arms, and Kids Action Program formed Valley Roots Housing Cooperative to establish and build housing that is dignified and attainable and in fitting with the community needs. With the Support of the Department of Community Services and Municipal Affairs and Housing, our hope is to facilitate many different housing solutions that we can all be proud of and change the tide of this challenge.