COVID’s Economic Effects Come Home To Roost

A tent city with many different coloured tents crowded close together
IMG_8470 photo by Neeta Lind is licensed under CC BY 2.0
Spot the historic feature in this 2011 Santa Rosa "tent city." COVID has brought big changes.

Across Canada, we’re somewhat envious of the Maritime provinces, which have managed to keep their COVID infection numbers to a minimum. However, COVID’s economic effects are definitely being felt in Halifax, Nova Scotia where housing prices (ownership and rental) have grown significantly1. The number of people living in temporary accommodation is growing.

Hotels have been used for some time now as overflow when the emergency shelter system doesn’t have enough capacity. In the past year, the number of people staying in hotels has risen dramatically. It also seems they aren’t finding housing that they can afford so they can move out. As this CBC story relates, the people staying in the hotels are grateful but wishing they could “go home,” and the government might be wishing it had moved faster to ban evictions: With nowhere to go, number of income assistance clients living in hotels skyrockets

Meanwhile, on the west coast, decision makers in Santa Rosa, California decided to get ahead of the game when COVID began. They proposed a temporary encampment in a city park for people experiencing homelessness. Local residents were initially outraged, but the city pressed on, leading with the idea that “these are our neighbours, too.”

An orderly encampment with supports from community agencies appeared in one of the parking lots. People staying at the camp found jobs and some were lucky enough to move to permanent housing. As for the neighbours who were up in arms? Their lives changed, too. As Next City reports, the whole story is something that other communities might find instructive: What Other Places Can Learn From Santa Rosa’s Tent City


  1. The polling firm Angus Reid has constructed a Canadian housing pain index, following a most recent survey of Canadian residents about their housing situation. Their report documents significant rise in housing prices in Halifax and an elevated desire for a downturn in the housing market compared with the rest of the country. For more about Haligonians’ experience of their housing market see at Angus Reid: To Have & Have Not: Canadians Take Sides On Housing Market, Divided In Desire For Home Prices To Rise, Or Tank

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