February 6th, 2023
Houston should ban winter evictions, support people during coldest months
HALIFAX – Families continue to struggle with the cost of housing and the number of Nova Scotians who find themselves unhoused continues to grow. That’s why Nova Scotia should implement a permanent ban on winter evictions, similar to rules preventing Nova Scotia Power from cutting off people’s power during the winter months.
"Right now there are thousands of families one cheque away from not being able to pay their rent, and with a vacancy rate under 1 percent for affordable rentals, if they get evicted, they've got nowhere to go," said NDP Residential Tenancies spokesperson Gary Burrill. "A ban on winter evictions is a good way to make sure that more people aren't forced into sleeping outside when the temperatures are dangerously cold."
This weekend temperatures hit minus 43 with the windchill in parts of the province, and community support organizations had to scramble to ensure those experiencing homelessness had somewhere safe to stay.
"We have a housing crisis in our province. Rental vacancy for low-income Nova Scotians is around 0.6 percent and many who face eviction have virtually no alternative options for shelter or accommodation. Tenants are being evicted into homelessness during the coldest time of year,” said Katie Brousseau, Community Legal Worker at Dalhousie Legal Aid Service. “Considering what we saw this weekend with windchills below -40, anything that can be done to ensure fewer people are sleeping outside right now would help.”
Evictions were banned for 3 months at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic to protect people who were being ordered to stay home by Public Health. A ban on evictions was put in place in Halifax during wartime housing shortages in the 1940s, preventing evictions over the winter months.
The Nova Scotia NDP will table legislation to create a wintertime eviction ban in the upcoming legislative sitting.