Extreme cold keeps homeless services busy
Wind chill warning issued for much of New Brunswick
Organizations that assist the homeless in New Brunswick are stepping up efforts with the province in the grips of a deep freeze.
Environment Canada issued warnings for much of the province Thursday, with wind chill temperatures dipping as low as -45 Celsius.
"Just got to keep your hands warm; your toes and your hands," said James Doucet, who was in line for a hot meal at a Moncton soup kitchen.
Staff with the YMCA's Reconnect Outreach Program have been out on the streets, searching for people in need.
"We did do a blanket drive and a warm coat drive a few weeks ago and the community really responded and now Reconnect are able to provide people any sort of warm clothing — hats and boots — anything they may need for this cold climate," said Angelique Reddy-Kalala, who oversees the program.
"This is particularly important this time of year when it's so cold out so they can find people that might not know about the services that are available to them and help them along their way."
Reddy-Kalala says the majority of Moncton's homeless population seek refuge overnight at one of the city's two shelters, but the need for such services is increasing.
"There's a lot of people in need in our community and there's a lot of working poor that are struggling to get by," she said.
The Fredericton Emergency Shelter is also busy, said executive director Deborah Swan. But even the recent cold snap isn't enough incentive for some people to take advantage of free shelter, she said.
"There are some out there who just do not feel comfortable around people for whatever reason and they don't come to us," said Swan.
"We've got in the men's shelter, particularly, we have 25 beds in one open space. So there isn't a lot of privacy. You're sharing bathrooms, laundry facilities and all of that. So there are 25 different personalities that need to get along because they're so often in the same space. So that can be really difficult for some people," she said.
In those cases, the shelter gathers warm blankets and clothing to distribute, said Swan.
"So if we can't keep them warm in the shelter, we need to find a way to keep them warm wherever they may be."