Top News

Town of Truro, homeless society officials open lines of communication

A meeting was held this week involving town officials and members of the Truro Homeless Outreach Society to discuss the homeless issue in Truro.
A meeting was held this week involving town officials and members of the Truro Homeless Outreach Society to discuss the homeless issue in Truro. - Harry Sullivan

Collaborative effort seen as a start to deal with those in our society who fall between the cracks

TRURO, N.S. – A concerted effort is needed to deal with homelessness and issues relating to individuals who don’t fit into a specific societal mould, local advocates say.

“Absolutely every human being deserves dignity and we’re calling on our community for collaborators to help build a future where folks don’t fall through the cracks,” said Jolene Reid, spokesperson for the Truro Homeless Outreach Society.

For the past several months, the society, which operates the downtown Hub House, has been assisting a homeless individual who has chosen not to accept the nighttime accommodation that could be available to him.

As a compromise, society officials have been permitting the man to sleep behind the Prince Street shelter, where he’s been visible to the public, especially during daytime.

The man is currently being treated in hospital after authorities were called Wednesday evening when a society member determined he was experiencing medical distress.

After being assessed by Truro Police officers and EHS paramedics, he was voluntarily transported to hospital.

The man has been the subject of recent discussion between the society and town officials, including Mayor Bill Mills, and his behaviour has generated complaints from citizens and downtown business owners.

Town officials and society members have been at odds as to how best deal with the situation and homelessness in general.

To move forward and put past differences aside, however, a meeting was held this week involving Mills, other town officials and members of the society.

“I think the biggest thing is, we’ve opened up the lines of communication,” Mills said. “The bottom line is we have come to a conclusion that we are going to work together on a number of issues.”

To that end, Mills said he will approach Nova Scotia’s minister of Social Services to discuss options for dealing with such situations. He also intends to seek other provincial or federal assistance around the larger issues surrounding mental health and how it relates to homelessness in general.

“As far as their opinion that we want to get rid of (the shelter) that’s not the case,” Mills said. “But, at the same time we do have some issues that we need to address. And they recognize that as well.”

Mills said the bottom line is there are some chronic problems in the area of mental health and those who suffer from it, and beyond that, the challenge of determining what options are available.

Reid said views the meeting as a “productive beginning to a conversation” and maintains public education is the best way to address these issues.

“I think that we will continue to advocate, we will continue to welcome any collaborators to the table. We need to innovate, we need to work together and we need to build relationships,” she said. “There is no easy solution.”

And it is that complexity that makes solving the problem so cumbersome. Because even if a solution can be found for the most pressing current concerns, that doesn’t mean it will work for future cases.

“It’s really important that as long as we understand when we call them complex cases, or we call them homeless people, every case is individual,” Reid said. “In this case the only thing we can do is be completely transparent and open and willing to collaborate. We need a new solution, we need new ideas and new approaches. And they are not going to come from a narrow perspective. They are going to come from gathering together as a community.”

As to why the society has gone the extra distance to assist an individual who has otherwise fallen through the cracks, Reid said the group is simply adhering to its own stated goals.

“Hub House operates as a homeless shelter but the Truro Homeless Outreach Society’s mission statement is to end homelessness one individual at a time,” she said. “So, he fell under the mission statement … this is something that we are driven to believe in.”

Recent Stories