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Homeless continue to stay at Halifax encampments, say there are few housing options

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The clock is ticking for people living at encampments in the Halifax-area.

As the deadline to move out of five encampments passed on Monday, some unhoused people say they remain without many options.

Ron Richards and his three-month pregnant wife live at the encampment at Grand Parade.

The couple was in a desperate search for housing before they were set to lose power on Friday morning.

“I don’t know what we’re going to do. I’ve been looking day by day on Kijiji, Facebook, everywhere for apartments, and there’s nothing out there that’s at our budget that we could afford,” says Richards.

They recently moved to Grand Parade after living at the Halifax Forum shelter, which the province opened.

Richards says they didn’t feel safe.

“There were issues of drugs and there was no security,” he says.

Since arriving at Grand Parade a few weeks ago, they have been trying to find shelters with spots for the both of them, but say everywhere they looked was either full, or only had room for one of them.

“(My wife) doesn’t want to be by herself and she doesn’t want me to be by myself. We want to be together, you know, as a couple,” explained Richards.

At the Victoria Park encampment on Thursday, many people had not started to collect their belongings to vacate the area.

While the people living there did not want to speak on camera, they told CTV News they cannot find a place to stay because all the shelters are full, however, once they do, they will leave.

In a statement to CTV News, the city of Halifax said the province has assured the municipality there are spaces available in indoor facilities.

“The province has a number of facilities, including The Overlook, the Multi-Purpose Centre of the Halifax Forum, and the modulars at Waverly Inn. These facilities are organized by the province and are run by their service providers,” said Jake Fulton, a spokesperson for the city.

The province said in its own statement it ensures shelters have enough security to make them safe for residents and the larger community.

“All the shelters are funded by DCS have security measures in place. Most shelter have 24/7 security on site, including the Halifax Forum,” said the province’s department of Community Services spokesperson, Christina Deveau. “We encourage people to come inside to somewhere that is safe and warm, and where they can receive further support.”

At the encampment in Lower Sackville on Thursday, only a handful of people remained and some were putting their belongings in a U-Haul provided by volunteers.

A few are expected to move to the designated encampment in Dartmouth that is still open.

“After these people arrive, that will be all that Green Road can handle for people. We are absolutely at max,” said Pam Taylor, an encampment volunteer.

Taylor says 29 people live at the encampment and it is the largest in Nova Scotia at this time.

“A lot of individuals are very worried or scared right now, and understandably so. You don’t know where you’re going to be tomorrow,” she says.

As for Richards and his wife, they are now weighing other options, like potentially living separately. 

For more Nova Scotia news visit our dedicated provincial page.

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