Homeless men in Saint John struggle to find shelter
Out of the Cold shelter will open on Jan. 2
Saint John's homeless men are having trouble finding shelter this month as the Salvation Army’s shelter in the city is full and a back-up shelter will not open until early January.
Ed McLeod and his brother Fred found themselves in a difficult situation earlier this month when they couldn’t scrape together enough money to move into an apartment.
The two men are on social assistance and Fred is in a wheelchair.
When they started looking for temporary accommodation they soon discovered that they couldn’t get a space at the Salvation Army shelter because it was full.
The city has a back-up shelter that operates between January and March at the Grace Presbyterian Church. However, the Out of the Cold shelter will not open until Jan. 2.
The shelter is entirely operated by volunteers.
Mark Leger, the co-ordinator for the Greater Saint John Steering Committee for the Homeless, said they would like to be able to open the shelter earlier because there is a need in the city for more space.
If the centre could open earlier, Leger said it could help people such as Ed and Fred McLeod.
"They're just men that are in unstable living conditions. They're in a rooming house, they lost it. They were in an apartment, they lost it. But in a lot of cases people are actually living on the streets," he said.
The Out of the Cold shelter housed 30 men over the course of three months last year, according to the Saint John Homelessness Steering Committee. The centre was operated with the help of 45 volunteers.
The plan, Leger said, is to get more churches and more volunteers involved with the Out of the Cold shelter.
Once that happens, he said the plan is to begin opening the back-up shelter on Dec. 1 and keep it open until the end of March.
Leger said the long-established Salvation Army Centre is no longer an option for many men in the city who are looking for temporary housing.
"Most of the time during the winter it is difficult and nearly impossible for some men to get in there. So they are left out in the cold," Leger said.