A crisis beyond housing

Over the past number of months, the housing crisis has come to a head in Halifax and across Nova Scotia. With recent initiatives, we are seeing the public conversation change. We are also seeing government respond with solutions. Thank you to the decision makers who have recognized the gravity of this issue. For all of this progress, we are extremely grateful.  

At United Way Halifax, we believe everyone deserves a safe, affordable place to call home. Yet, we also know people need more than a home to live a good life. As the housing crisis wears on and the costs of everyday goods rise, too many people are missing out on the social determinants of health –  basic needs like nutritious food, an adequate income, access to mental health or addiction supports, a sense of belonging and community, childcare and transportation, and spaces free of racism and discrimination.

The social determinants of health show us that if we don’t do more to change our current situation, Halifax will be facing a community health crisis. And that’s not something to take lightly. 

When people are missing one or some of the pieces of the social determinants of health, it impairs their ability to overcome barriers and thrive. When the pieces are missing for too long, it affects people’s physical and mental health – and it impacts the already overburdened healthcare system. The social determinants of health are a foundation that helps keep people healthy and safe proactively, and out of the ER.  

Addressing this community health crisis means thinking, acting, and investing holistically to ensure everyone in our community is supported with basic needs well before a crisis point. The social sector understands these needs best and is an essential part of the solution. But it shouldn’t just be up to them. 

We ask everyone to understand and champion the importance of proactively meeting basic needs to improve this community’s health before it’s too late. You can make a difference by donating to and volunteering with United Way Halifax, or another charity of your choice on the front lines, helping to address these complex social issues. You can also continue to use your voice to speak up, by talking to your MP, MLA or councillor; or by starting conversations with colleagues and friends.  

Let’s work together on this common goal, and change the direction our community is heading in. Together we can ensure our healthcare system has more capacity to help folks when they need it and give more people the foundation they need to live a good life.  

Sara Napier
President & CEO
United Way Halifax

Kenny Hilaire
Board Chair
United Way Halifax

Want to help? 

Find your MLA, MP or councillor’s contact information and use our email template to send a message to your elected representatives.

Want more information on the Social Determinants of Health?

Read our Building Poverty Solutions Report to learn more about the social determinants of health, systemic causes of poverty, and solutions for our community.