A non-profit that supports unhoused women and children is looking to partner with landlords in the Halifax Regional Municipality to provide temporary emergency housing.

Adsum for Women and Children created the landlord partnership program as part of its Diverting Families program, which it started in 2017. In a tweet earlier this week, Adsum said it was looking for more landlords across HRM to “give the gift of a new home.”  

Rylee Booroff, a housing support manager with Adsum, said what they’re looking for is more emergency housing where women and families can live until they find more permanent, stable housing. 

Booroff said they work with private landlords across the HRM. She said she’s recently received two emails from landlords interested in learning more about the partnership.  

“That is really positive because these are criticial times,” Booroff said.  “We remain motivated and optimistic that there are people who will want to work with us.”

The clients who take part in the program are on the by-name list from the Affordable Housing Association of Nova Scotia. Through the program, Adsum is the leaseholder of the emergency unit, sublets the housing to the client, and pays the rent directly to the landlord.

Over the tenancy, Adsum also provides housing support to the client and keeps in touch with the landlord to mediate any issues. Booroff said they have some flexible funding they can use in the case of damage to the unit, although she added that “geninuely is a rare occurrence.”

“We’re here for the landlords, we’re here for the tenants,” Booroff said. “We want to make sure there is success there.” 

A white, pink, and grey brochure detailing specifics of the landlord partnership program.
Details of the landlord partnership program. Credit: Adsum for Women and Children

Booroff said the program offers many benefits for families who take part. They stay out of the shelter system and don’t have to move into a hotel, which doesn’t offer the most appropriate living arrangements for families. Booroff said families can also bring along their own belongings, which makes them feel more at home in a space, even if it’s only temporary until they find something more permanent.

“Having a family together is so important,” Booroff said. “Having a home, having a yard, having a dining room where you can eat. It’s those small things that make a big difference.”

Finding such emergency housing can be a challenge, though, in an already tight housing market. Still, Booroff said they have found landlords with “altruistic attitudes” over the years who’ve taken part in the program. In some cases, these partnerships end up as permanent housing if the landlord and client find it’s a good fit.

Landlord says some clients become permanent tenants

Mike Burgess is a landlord who owns 10 buildings in north Dartmouth. He’s worked with Adsum on this partnership. He first heard about their work as the landlord of the building that housed Adsum’s offices.

“The more I’ve become involved with Adsum and worked with them, I’ve come to recognize what a great organization they are, being able to help people who are in some pretty dire situations,” Burgess said.

Burgess said “quite a few” of Adsum’s clients who he provided with emergency housing have gone on to become his permanent tenants.

“In the big picture, things have worked out pretty well,” he said. 

Burgess said Adsum once helped one of his tenants, a single mother who was “not in a good place,” find more suitable housing. 

“That was one of the pivotal moments for me that really showed what a stand-up organization it is,” Burgess said. “Just because somebody gets in a bad situation doesn’t make them a bad person. And we all need help, and that help is different for each person.”

Booroff said in 2020, out of the 12 families who received temporary emergency housing, about five of those signed on for permanent housing with the landlords who took part. 

“To be able to offer permanent housing is very empowering,” Booroff said.

A white woman with chin length auburn hair and blue eyes, wearing a bright blue sweater

Suzanne Rent

Suzanne Rent is a writer, editor, and researcher. You can follow her on Twitter @Suzanne_Rent

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