The decision by the city of Halifax to dismantle the encampments is unjust

February 9, 2024

The decision by the city of Halifax to dismantle the encampments is deeply unsettling, unjust, and inhumane, especially during the winter. The homeless population in Halifax, like many other cities, is largely composed of individuals who, for various reasons, have been unable to secure stable housing. Many are victims of circumstances beyond their control, such as job loss, mental health issues, or traumatic experiences. They didn’t choose to live on the streets; society and systemic failures pushed them into that corner. 

The decision to dismantle these encampments amidst the harsh winter is wrong on many levels. It exposes vulnerable individuals to the brutal cold, increasing the risks of hypothermia, frostbite, and other severe health complications. This action by the Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM) seems to be a superficial solution that fails to address the root cause of homelessness. This situation is a stark indicator that the HRM, the provincial government, and even the Federal government have been grossly negligent in my view and their responsibilities towards affordable public housing over the years.  It’s a clear manifestation of years of lackadaisical attitudes and misplaced priorities mainly to satisfy the rich. The governments at all levels have been asleep at the wheel, failing to acknowledge and address the escalating housing crisis. 

The lack of affordable public housing is a glaring issue and not new. Over the years, living costs and affording a home have soared while wages have stagnated. This discrepancy has pushed an increasing number of people into homelessness. Yet, the government’s efforts to construct affordable housing have been underwhelming. The decision to dismantle homeless encampments is not a solution; it’s a band-aid on a deep, festering wound. It does nothing to address the root cause of the problem, the lack of affordable public housing. Instead, it pushes the issue out of sight, making it easy for those in power to ignore the daily harsh realities that many residents face. 

It’s high time that all levels of government wake up from their slumber and take decisive action. They must acknowledge the housing crisis and commit to constructing affordable public housing. It’s not just about providing shelter; it’s about offering dignity, safety, and a chance for these individuals to rebuild their lives. The homeless population deserves better than being forced out of their makeshift homes during the coldest time of the year. They deserve empathy, support, and, most importantly, a safe, warm place to call home. The government’s dismantling of encampments is not just wrong; it’s an affront to human dignity and a glaring example of systemic failure. It’s time for change to step up and take real action. Sustained, concerted efforts towards more affordable public housing should be the priority, not the displacement of the vulnerable homeless population.

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