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Tent City

North Commons Turns into Campground to Protest Lack of Affordable Housing

by Samantha Chown

Tent City

This weekend, the North Commons will be a camping ground.  On Saturday, tents will be pitched as part of a protest hosted by the Nova Scotia Common Front for Housing (CFH). Organizers are demanding more affordable housing in the province.

“To end homelessness, you give people homes,” says Jordan Roberts, Volunteer Coordinator for Out of the Cold Emergency Shelter.  Roberts says the tent city will help connect members of the community while serving as public awareness for the housing crisis in Nova Scotia.

Roberts says emergency shelters provide benefit to those in need but take a lot of time and energy and do not touch on the long-term issue.  The chronic use of shelters is not a solution to the current demand for affordable and supportive housing, she says. 

The event will begin with a rally followed by workshops and discussions, dinner, music and an open mic.  Roberts says there will be everything from “serious political discussion to people just jamming on the Commons.”  The event will also be family friendly, with a children’s activity area that includes crafts and games. 

Jocelyne Tranquilla, a committee member of CFH and an organiser of the event, says the CFH made a presentation to the municipal government in order to get the event’s permit.

The group has a permit from the city to set up camp on the Commons but is not legally allowed to sleep while on the premises.  Instead, they are inviting community members to come, hang out, enjoy free food and listen to music for the evening.  While there will be a few tents on the premise, they urge participants to bring their own if possible.

A dinner donated by the Sisters of Charity, Food not Bombs and Campus Action on Food will be served and there will also be live music featuring local artists and an acoustic open mic open to everyone.  In the morning, there will be a continental style breakfast- think muffins and juice- followed by a march to Alderney Landing in support of the International Day against Poverty.

This weekend’s tent city is the first call to action by the CHR, which was formed in early March out of members of the Out Of The Cold Shelter and the community, in an effort to eradicate homelessness.

Workshops during the afternoon will touch on the housing crisis in Nova Scotia, how it is affecting different communities - including non-status people, aboriginal people and former residents of Africville - as well as how to mobilize community initiatives. 

The discussion period will also bring forward CFH’s demands and guiding principles: 

  • We all have the right to quality, affordable housing that is safe and accessible.
  • Housing should be based on need rather than profit.
  • Housing is fundamental to individual and community health and well-being.
  • Governments at all levels have an obligation to facilitate the provision of affordable housing for all.
  • We believe in the power of people to organize for housing.

Tranquilla says the CFH hopes this event will move the government to action.  The group would like to see the province re-establish rent control and have Ottawa create a National Housing Strategy.  They want 25 per cent of each new residential building to be allotted as affordable housing and the immediate construction of 3000 new affordable housing units to eliminate the current wait list. 

Tranquilla says Tent City is not just about preaching but a way for people to get more involved in a way that is realistic for them. 

“It’s a very serious issue we’re very passionate about and it’s going to be a lot of fun,” says Tranquilla.

CFH counts Community Action on Homelessness, Dalhousie Legal Aid Services, Metro Non-Profit Housing Association, Out of the Cold Emergency Shelter, St. Matthew’s Church, No One is Illegal and Halifax Refugee Clinic as just some of the supporters of the event.

 

Tent City was originally planned for the October 16 weekend but has been delayed until October 23 due to weather. 


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Comments

sadly the tent city is going

sadly the tent city is going to be postponed until next saturday (october 23rd) due to the heavy rain. same times / places / schedule.
please do not lost the excitement we've all been feeling about taking up space in the middle of our city to demand more affordable and supportive housing. use this week to tell more friends and family, round up tents and practice your song or spoken word piece for our open mic! use this rainy day to make posters!

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