Increased demand, pandemic restrictions, force Halifax shelter to spend savings putting people up in hotels

The pandemic is not the only reason, but a Nova Scotia charity has been forced to rent hotel rooms to provide shelter for people in need.

Adsum for Women and Children has spent $50,000 on the rooms since December.

On any given night, there can be upward of 100 people staying at Adsum House or in one of their housing locations across the Halifax Regional Municipality.

"People that we're hearing from are not people that we've met before," says Sheri Lecker, the executive director of Adsum House.

Lecker says that's partly due to the pandemic, but, she says lately, the need for safe housing has exceeded what they can provide, so since December, they’ve been putting people up in hotels.

"It was $50,000 for hotel rooms and in some cases some meals as well related to people’s stay, because there was nowhere to go," Lecker says.

Lecker says renting hotel rooms is a very expensive Band-Aid solution to the housing problem.

"What do you do, say stay outside?" Lecker says. "That should not be the choice for anyone."

NDP housing critic Lisa Roberts says charitable organizations should not be paying for hotel rooms to keep people off the street. She says the province needs to step up and deliver a housing strategy.

"All of these organizations are trying to cover a gap that belongs, the responsibility to address that gap belongs with the provincial government," Roberts says.

Roberts says Nova Scotia has the same shelter capacity as it did in 2019. One possible solution put before the province is to buy vacant hotels or motels to increase the number of available beds.

"There are some that are empty and could be acquired and the government has chosen not to do that," Roberts said.

Statistics show there are 436 people currently homeless in the Halifax Regional Municipality.

The $50,000 that was spent on hotels was raised by Adsum House to go toward their housing project in Lakeside. Lecker says they will now try to raise those funds again.