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65 units for homeless people in HRM to open within the year

Former Dartmouth hotel to be converted into non-profit-run supportive housing

3 min read
A man in a plaid shirt carries an empty garbage bin towards the doors of an empty white hotel.
caption A construction worker walks into the site of a new supportive housing facility on Thursday in Dartmouth. The former hotel will be converted into 65 units for chronically unhoused people.

Some people experiencing chronic homelessness in HRM will have access to 65 new supportive housing units.

In a live-streamed press conference, federal Housing Minister Ahmed Hussen said the federal government is giving $6.5 million to the project through its rapid housing initiative. 

The province will also give $3.5 million, and then $1.5 million every year for operating costs.

The North End Community Health Center and Affordable Housing Association of Nova Scotia will operate the building, formerly the Dartmouth Travelodge hotel, at 101 Yorkshire Avenue Extension. 

The facility is called The Overlook. The concept of supportive housing combines affordability with co-ordinated services for residents. 

Marie-France LeBlanc, executive director of NECHC, said the facility is the first of its kind in Atlantic Canada.

“It’s a trailblazing housing project that provides safe, independent living and looks beyond the chaotic lifestyles of many of our tenants and their choices, to work collaboratively with them and the community as a whole to create individual plans for safety, life stability, that a traditional model could not support,” she said. 

A large white hotel fills the frame. In the background are blue sky and three tall red and white chimneys pumping out a cloud of white smoke.
caption The former Dartmouth Travelodge hotel will be converted into 65 units for chronically unhoused people. The new supportive housing facility will be named The Overlook.

The Overlook will have a library, common room, pharmacy, drop-in centre, counselling office, café, community kitchen and outdoor community spaces.

“All these spaces are being conceived utilizing a trauma-informed design lens to provide our community members space to find calm and to heal,” LeBlanc said.

“Our staff will include a 24-7 team of harm reduction housing workers, to support tenants around their basic housing needs and safety plans. These staff all have lived experience themselves.”

Staff members will also include a registered nurse, professional care workers, a nurse practitioner, addictions specialists and a death doula.

LeBlanc said most of the staff will be hired by Feb. 1.

None of the officials could say exactly when The Overlook will open to residents. LeBlanc said it will be within the year. All projects funded by the federal government’s rapid housing initiative must be completed in one year.

“There would never be any best practice that would say to move 60 people in all at once. So, we’ve started the program. And you will start seeing people trickling in, you know, shortly, in the next little while. But certainly, we’ve started working with the individuals that will be living there.”

Sixty units will be permanent homes, while five will be for unhoused people needing respite care. 

According to the Affordable Housing Association of Nova Scotia, there are 483 people without homes in HRM as of Jan. 25.

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Wilson Henry

Wilson Henry is a writer and amateur comics artist based in Halifax. Their interests include visual art, horses and podcasting.

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