New Brunswick

Fredericton homeless shelters facing uncertain future

For more than five months, the men's and women's homeless shelters in Fredericton have been at near or over capacity, which is unusual for such a long stretch of time, says Warren Maddox, the executive director of Fredericton Homeless Shelters.

Operator says increased expenses puts the shelters' future in jeopardy

Warren Maddox says it's unusual for the men's and women's shelters in Fredericton to be so full for such a long period of time. (CBC )

For more than five months, the men's and women's homeless shelters in Fredericton have been at near or over capacity, which is unusual for such a long stretch of time, says Warren Maddox, the executive director of Fredericton Homeless Shelters.

"The men's shelter has been running pretty consistently at 110 per cent... and the women's shelter has been running between 90 and 110 per cent," Maddox said.

There are 25 beds at The Men's Shelter and 10 beds at the Grace House for Women's shelter. The shelters also have emergency cots.

Maddox says people have stayed for months at the shelters because of the bitterly cold weather.

"It's been a long, long, long winter," he said.

In January, he said the men's shelter turned away 10 people because it didn't have any space.

"It's pretty hard to look somebody in the eye and say, 'I'm sorry, there's no space for you.' And it's 35 below zero out," Maddox said.

The shelter has asked the the jail to take in homeless people.

"In some cases, if it's really, really, really bitter cold out, we will contact city police to see if they have a cell that can be used for someone," Maddox said.

Chris Moore said he waited two weeks to get a space at the shelter.

"It was frustrating to be homeless with no money, no income, no nothing," Moore said.

You bundle up and do what you can to survive- Jordan Cain

Jordan Cain said she first became homeless last summer. She's stayed at the shelter throughout most of the winter, but has slept on the streets.

"Curled up trying to get as many layers on as you can, right. You bundle up and do what you can to survive," Cain said.

'An ugly reality'

Since the shelters have been operating over capacity, expenses have also substantially increased, says Maddox.

He says the men's and women's shelters are paying more for water and heat, which could put the future of the shelters in jeopardy.

"It's an ugly reality," Maddox said.

The majority of the shelters funding comes from fundraising. It receives some provincial funding.

Maddox says there needs to be a more sustainable funding model in order to keep the shelters in operation, including increased support from the province and a portion of funding from the federal government.

Without more support, the future of the shelters is uncertain, says Maddox.

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