People are invited and encouraged to gather outside the Nova Scotia legislature building on Sunday, November 28 to rally in support of housing for all. The event at Province House, titled “call back the house until we all have one,” will take place from 1-2pm and is being organized by members of P.A.D.S. (Permanent, Accessible, Dignified, Safe Housing).
“P.A.D.S. formed in response to the August 18 evictions and very much out of People’s Park,” says Drew Moore, a volunteer with the group. “And so the immediate concern was a moratorium on evictions.”
Up until now, most of the efforts aimed at the government have been directed at the municipality of Halifax, because that’s who can put a moratorium on evictions from city parks. But since lobbying the city has provided no immediate solutions, advocates are turning to the province for help.
“We've always known that—as city councilors will say again and again—housing really isn't the responsibility of the municipality, it is the responsibility of the province,” says Moore. “And that’s why we’ve always wanted to make sure the province was living up to their commitments.”
When first announced, the rally was scheduled for Saturday, but has been changed so as not to interfere with this rally in solidarity against police brutality against in Indigenous people. The main goal of the housing rally is to ask MLAs to return for an emergency sitting of the legislature. The fall sitting of the house—the first for the newly elected Progressive Conservative government—wrapped up three weeks ago on November 5, and provincial politicians aren’t expected to reconvene there until sometime in spring 2022.
“If housing is a human right and we are widely recognizing that we are in a housing crisis, then we need to be taking emergency measures to address this,” says Moore. “And that’s why we’re asking for an emergency session of the house, to call back everyone to the house until everyone has one.”
But it’s also meant to draw more attention to the issue of housing, which has already become front and centre for many Nova Scotians since the beginning of the pandemic. “A day doesn’t go by when I’m not talking to someone who’s now bringing up to me that we’re now in a housing crisis” Moore adds. “People from all walks of life are feeling it right now.”
This shift of attention to Province House doesn’t mean that P.A.D.S. will stop lobbying the city, especially since HRM has explicitly promised modular units for 24 people in Dartmouth by the end of the calendar year, and an additional 36 in Halifax in early 2022.
“The municipality said that people would have housing before the snow flies and that hasn’t happened,” says Moore. “But to be frank, the province hasn’t even made any such promise, they’ve been largely silent on the issue of housing.”
What it does mean is that the rally will draw more attention to recent housing announcements made by the province, like last week’s $6.4 million “affordable” housing investment and Thursday’s announcement of the members of a joint housing task force with the municipality.
P.A.D.S. says it’s still waiting on a timeline from minister John Lohr on the implementation of the recommendations from the 2021 Affordable Housing Report, although was promised within 90 days as part of the government’s mandate. “There is a reason around the timing of the rally. It is a new government and they coincidentally won the election the night before the Aug 18 evictions,” says Moore. “And we’ve now reached the 100-day mark of their mandate.”