Homelessness advocates in Halifax, hoping to capitalize on recent attention to the issue, are petitioning Ottawa for a national plan.
“It’s a way of addressing homelessness, but it’s much more than that. It’s also a way of addressing poverty. It’s a way of ensuring that Canadians have safe, comfortable places that they can afford to live in,” said Wayne MacNaughton, co-chair of the Community Action on Homelessness Steering Committee.
The issue is much more than a passing interest for MacNaughton. He spent six years being homeless on and off. His group has so far collected about 300 signatures to send to the federal government.
They want a stable, long-term plan to get and keep people off the streets.
“We’re now at the point where we don’t really have an organized program. It’s all been piecemeal,” said MacNaughton. “It’s all this kind of announce one program that’s going to last three years. It’s really, really, really hard to see a real advance in housing on that basis.”
NDP housing critic Megan Leslie joined a press conference yesterday to bring the petition to the House of Commons.
There are some bright spots on the horizon for the activists. The province and federal government last week announced a new poverty reduction strategy in Nova Scotia that includes $59 million for housing.
There’s also a NDP private members bill before the House of Commons calling for a national strategy that is also supported by the Liberals and Bloc Quebecois.
“What is the solution to homelessness? It’s housing,” said Leslie. “It’s not rocket science.”