Treating housing as one among many social services is not cutting it, according to affordable housing advocates.
The Affordable Housing Association of Nova Scotia is calling on the NDP government to create a dedicated body — perhaps even a distinct department and minister — to deal with what they call a “housing crisis” in the province.
Housing is currently under the jurisdiction of Community Services.
Given that, according to AHANS executive member Claudia Jahn, one might conclude housing is simply one community service among many.
“(But) access to decent and appropriate housing is a basic human right,” she said during a standing committee meeting on community services yesterday. “Housing is far more than a social service.”
Housing, according to Jahn, involves more than just homelessness — it also covers the affordability of housing, questions of justice both juridical and social, and health concerns.
The lack of focus on housing as a distinct issue means the government is missing out on private- and non-profit resources available to address the issue, Jahn said.
If the province were to create a department for housing, it could bring together all the stakeholders to create tangible goals in a housing strategy.
But Community Services Minister Denise Patterson-Rafuse said she is confident her department can address the issue.
“We can address it within our department,” she said, citing costs and delays involved in the creation of a new department.