Fiercely Dependent! Reporting The News The Way YOU See It

A tent city in early morning. A group gather for breakfast in the background, between the tents
What would you guess? More failed homeowners gathering for breakfast, or more evicted renters?

Fiercely Dependent? Well, it certainly makes a change from the more usual journalistic pronouncement: “Fiercely Independent: Reporting the news the way WE see it.”

The Halifax Examiner is looking for a little dependency as it considers how to best to report upon the growing housing crisis in Halifax, Nova Scotia in a series called Priced Out.

The plan is to build a reporting team that takes guidance from regular community consultations in the form of “reader engagement sessions.”


Could it prove more useful than conventional reporting, either to give folks better understanding of the issues, or to better promote community welfare advocacy, or both?

Certainly there is a growing sense that “lived experience” is important to developing successful programs to end homelessness. For example, Vote Housing, a Canadian group of agencies, is currently making lived experience an essential part of the their effort to influence the upcoming federal election.

On the other hand, soliciting opinion and advice is not the same as soliciting the fruits of experience. For example, the current Liberal government is the architect of Canada’s 2017 National Housing Strategy. How is their current election platform advising Canadians to deal with the housing crisis? Reflecting the National Housing Strategy, their election platform is skewed strongly (and many, including the Liberals, would argue appropriately) towards Canada’s 68% of the population who are home-owning individuals or families. If house prices continue to climb, the future implications of this housing crisis for homeowners may well be one of increasingly genteel poverty.

But the renters who are currently “priced out” are far more vulnerable to the current crisis than homeowners are. Homelessness stares these less prosperous Canadians renters in the face. How will “reader engagement sessions” exploring the nature of the housing crisis fare if/when the the balance of opinion reflects the needs of greater numbers of financially pinched homeowners? Will their majority of opinions simply drown out the pleas of the poor who are but a step away from life in a homeless shelter, or in an illegal tent in a public park?

Adding to the difficulty of balancing opinions on the housing crisis is 30 or more years of neoliberal thought that has been embraced by left and right leaning political parties. Neoliberal philosophy is well-rooted in the believed existence of a class of people who are taking a free ride through life on the backs of harder-working citizens. This perception currently pervades government thinking and communication in many countries and at all levels. Supporters continuously vocalize on Twitter, in letters to the editor, and in town hall meetings.

How to filter advice and opinion about an affordable housing crisis when the advisors and opinionators loudly share this often-racist philosophy of welfare “kings” and “queens” who belong exactly where they find themselves in life and are “entitled” to nothing more?

It seems as if the Halifax Examiner is tackling a very difficult row to hoe, and deserves considerable praise for taking on the challenge. We look forward to reading some of that journal’s citizen-assisted perceptions on the housing crisis.

Read more about this project in the Halifax Examiner: PRICED OUT