Community think tank looks at affordable housing

    Dana Mason (right), a public health educator/promoter with the Nova Scotia Health Authority, and Travis DeCoste (left) representing “A Roof Over Your Head” provided commentary on how they’ve been dealing with housing issues during the “A Community Think Tank – Housing Matters” seminar in Port Hawkesbury on October 24.

    PORT HAWKESBURY: A community think tank hosted a discussion last week and released recommendations on ways to bring more affordable housing to the Strait area.

    The Town of Port Hawkesbury and the Municipality of the County of Richmond partnered with Nova Scotia Health Authority (NSHA) and Public Health to discuss the housing issue on October 24.

    Representatives from community organizations, service clubs, government, NSCC, clergy, health providers, public health, community health board members, and property developers came together for the day-long event called “A Community Think Tank – Housing Matters.”

    “We see this gathering as an important first step to begin a much-needed conversation about how people in our communities are impacted by affordable, safe and adequate housing issues,” said Port Hawkesbury Mayor Brenda Chisholm-Beaton, who was also a member of the planning committee.

    The day featured two presentations, one by Dr. Daniela Kempkens, medical officer of health for NSHA Eastern Zone, spoke about the link between housing and health.

    “Hosing can have a significant impact on people’s health in our communities,” Dr. Kempkens said. “We need to work together across different sectors and organizations to address housing insecurity. Public Health is pleased to be working with both municipal partners on this important issue.”

    Stephan Richard, a representative from Housing Nova Scotia also attended to discuss how groups can work together to increase access to affordable housing. In addition, presentations were made of what Antigonish, Inverness County, and the South Shore has done in response to their housing needs.

    The day’s overall goal was to bring people together to learn more about housing insecurity and discuss how people in the communities are impacted by it, and also to serve as an opportunity to explore gaps and possible solutions.

    Celeste Gotell, health promoter with Public Health said several volunteers in attendance stepped up to continue the conversation and have scheduled a meeting for November.

    “[We] discussed the need for research and more discussions about the issue of housing,” she said. “It was recommended that we look at a Think Tank Chaper Two in the spring.”