Safe Harbour youth shelter closes in Saint John

Safe Harbour, Saint John's youth shelter, closed its doors on Friday, due to a lack of funding, but board members remain hopeful the closure is only temporary.

Board remains hopeful closure due to lack of funding only temporary

Safe Harbour, a 10-bed shelter for homeless youth in Saint John, closed on Friday after being open for less than a year. (Neville Crabbe/CBC)

Safe Harbour, Saint John's emergency and transitional housing facility for youth, closed its doors Friday due to a lack of funding.

It's a "tremendously difficult and very disturbing day for each and every one of us on the board of directors at Safe Harbour, as well as the residents, and the community and the staff," treasurer and secretary Kit Hickey told CBC News.

Alternate housing for nine of the 10 residents has been found, said Hickey. The other youth opted out, she said.

Kit Hickey, secretary/treasurer of Safe Harbour, is still hoping the provincial government will come through with about $200,000 in operational funding. (CBC)
Hickey is hopeful the closure pf the 10-bed facility will be temporary.

"What we need to see happen is confirmation of the operational budget," she said.

The board is prepared to "commit to the raising of 50 per cent of the approximately $425,000 annual operating budget" and has requested the other half come from the provincial government, said Hickey.

Community fundraising continues

Meanwhile, community efforts to see the shelter reopened in the near future continue.

A Save Safe Harbour GoFundMe campaign has raised nearly $2,300 so far, with donations ranging between $10 and $500.

A benefit show, featuring five bands, is also slated for Feb. 6 at 9 p.m.

About $550,000 is required to remove a construction lien on the facility.

The provincial Regional Development Corporation rejected a request for a loan guarantee to get the construction lien lifted and allow the board of directors to continue its fundraising efforts, saying there is no program available to support such a request.

Safe Harbour gives youth aged 16 to 24 a place to stay during short–term emergencies, or for up to six months, when needing time to transition to permanent housing.

Case managers also help youth access mental health and addictions counselling, as well as educational and employment opportunities.

Hickey says about 55 youth have used Safe Harbour since it opened 10 months ago on the former site of St. James Anglican Church on Broad Street.


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