Frequently Asked Questions
What do you do?
We build small, airtight, insulated shelters for those who need them. If the person living there is feeling threatened by the state and gives us permission, we also defend their shelters.
How can I donate? What kind of donations are you accepting?
Each shelter costs $1400 in materials, so money is one of the biggest ways you can help. You can donate funds here. When needed, HMA will also make callouts for specific donations on social media (e.g. water bottles, sleeping bags, tents).
How do I volunteer to build shelters?
You can email HalifaxMutualAid@riseup.net. Please share any relevant skills, and why you’d like to help. Someone will contact you.
What can I do to help?
There is a lot of work to be done to eliminate forced homelessness, and many avenues to participate in better housing futures. HMA does onboarding with new volunteers who are hoping to build shelters, create media content, and provide other support. It is also important to build relationships with unhoused neighbours so we can understand their needs and advocate for better systems. Lastly, the government at all levels is unlikely to provide sustainable solutions without pressure from the general population, so it is essential that we do not allow them to ignore the skyrocketing rental prices and evictions.
Why are you anonymous?
We were inspired to build crisis shelters by the Toronto Tiny Shelters. The city of Toronto took legal action against the designer and builder of these shelters, Khaleel Seivwright, to ensure he would stop building shelters. To continue his movement with resilience, we choose to stay anonymous and to not engage with the city so that we may continue building shelters.
Why won’t you talk with the city?
Along with being anonymous for the reasons above, our goals are very simple. We are always happy to talk in public forums. This is a public crisis, and we believe the discussion should be public as well.
There is little for us to discuss with the city. Our mission is clear, until there is housing for everyone, we will continue building. We hope that the city will turn to groups, such as Acorn, Out of the Cold, Adsum House, and other housing organizations, to discuss solutions.
When will you stop building shelters?
HMA commits to building shelters as long as they are needed by people in the community. Currently there are over 500 precariously or unhoused people in the HRM, and a fair share of them are currently waitlisted for HMA shelters when they become available.
How do you decide where to put a shelter?
Locations of each shelter are decided by the person who will live in them.
Why don’t the occupants just go to a shelter/hotel/the woods/etc.?
In today’s market, there are very limited options for safe, sustainable housing. The shelter system is beyond its capacity and turns away people in need of beds on a daily basis, and for many, shelters feel unsafe and are unable to meet their basic needs.
This post from a citizen delves further.