Province Renews Commitment to Help Homeless

Minsister Peterson-Rafuse discusses the homelessness strategy with an interested stakeholder.

October 16, 2012 11:31 AM

More than 200 Nova Scotians who were experiencing homelessness have a safe place to call home because of a provincial initiative launched less than 18 months ago.

With more still in need, the province announced today, Oct. 16, that the initiative to help transition homeless people into permanent housing will continue to be supported.

"Having a home is about more than having a roof over your head. It's about feeling that you belong in the world and, with a little help, can become independent and have control over your own future," said Community Services Minister Denise Peterson-Rafuse. "With today's announcement, more Nova Scotians will have the support they need to start on a better path forward for them and their families."

In partnership with shelter operators in Halifax, the province helped hire seven new supportive housing staff to work with Nova Scotians who needed help moving out of shelters and into permanent housing.

"The real measure of success of this project is that fact that we have helped 200 men and woman break the cycle of poverty," said Ms. Peterson-Rafuse. "With tomorrow being the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, it is an appropriate time to reflect on how, even as we are making a difference in some people's lives, we still have a long way to go."

"Community Services has supported Shelter Nova Scotia in several initiatives that offer housing and ongoing supports to men, women and children in our community," said Melissa Phillips, executive director of Shelter Nova Scotia. "The value of providing support to individuals who are at risk or experiencing homelessness cannot be understated when seeking to break the cycle of homelessness."

The province also recently announced funding to hire 10 youth outreach workers who will work with community-based organizations to help at-risk young people find permanent safe housing.

"Breaking the cycle of poverty has to meet the needs of young people. Many of these youth, through no fault of their own, find themselves without a safe and secure place to live," said Ms. Peterson-Rafuse. "By providing support early, we are trying to keep them safe and give them the help they need to get on a better path for a brighter future."

Since 2009, the province and its community partners have helped make life more affordable for thousands of low-income Nova Scotians.

Nearly $300 million has been invested to help Nova Scotia's most vulnerable people. This is the largest funding increase in a decade.

"Some families are in a better place than they were three years ago, but we know there are more that need help. We will continue to invest and work with our partners to make sure we keep moving forward down a better path," said Ms. Peterson-Rafuse.

Over the past three years, government actions have helped:

  • single working parent with two children increase their income by 23 per cent
  • 2,000 seniors, persons with disabilities and families find a safe and affordable home
  • the working poor increase their income by 19 per cent by raising the minimum wage, eliminating the provincial portion of the HST on electricity and other tax credits
  • 250,000 low- and modest-income Nova Scotians supplement their revenue with the Affordable Living Tax Credit, which has been increased twice since its introduction in 2009
  • the most vulnerable Nova Scotians supplement their income with the Poverty Reduction Credit, which has been increased by 20 per cent since its introduction
  • 1,000 more families access childcare subsidies
  • thousands of persons with disabilities increase their income by 10 per cent

Also, beginning today, changes in two provincial housing programs mean more families and seniors will be able to stay home longer by making much-needed repairs to their homes. It is expected that up to 200 more seniors and low-income families in Nova Scotia will qualify for the Provincial Housing Emergency Repair and Senior Citizens Assistance programs as a result of an increase in eligibility limits.