Fredericton gets provincial funding for new 20-bed out-of-the-cold shelter
Social Development offering more than $50,000 plus extra funding for rent subsidies
The Department of Social Development says it's earmarked more than $50,000 for an out-of-the-cold emergency shelter in Fredericton, according to a letter sent to the city.
Minister Dorothy Shephard said in the letter the money, plus extra funding for rent subsidies, is in response to the city's request for help finding appropriate housing options in Fredericton.
Shephard said $53,320 will be allocated for a new 20-bed emergency shelter. The province will also provide 35 rent subsidies for individuals ready to transition into a more permanent home as well as $140,000 for wrap-around support services to ensure those individuals remain housed.
The out-of-the-cold shelter on Brunswick Street gave roughly 20 people a place to stay at night since opening in December to support many of the city's homeless who were enduring frigid temperatures in tents.
The shelter closed May 1 after funding from the province and the city's zoning arrangement expired. The initial closing date was pushed back a month out of concern cold nights would continue through April.
About 100 people used the emergency shelter while it was open.
The shelter — a house donated by the church and used by former Anglican bishops — was never meant to be a long-term solution, and members of city council said the onus falls on the province to look after people who are homeless.
Advocates, like Warren Maddox, say all levels of government need to work together to increase the level of affordable housing.
Maddox, the executive director of Fredericton Homeless Shelters, said in an interview Monday funding for a new shelter is the province taking a proactive approach this time around and making sure there's some money available when needed.
"It's a bit of budgetary prudence," he said.
The out-of-the-cold shelter helped reduce the strain on his shelters during the cold months, but Maddox knows a new 20-bed shelter will need more than $53,320 to last the winter.
He said that amount of money would keep the shelter open for six to eight weeks.
It was the other two pledges that caught Maddox's attention. He said the rent subsidies and money for wrap-around services are "critical."
"Much bigger than slapping a Band-Aid on a shotgun blast," he said, referring to temporary solutions like the one-off emergency shelter.
"The wrap-around services are critical to get some individuals who have challenging personalities, to put it mildly, into a place," he said.
"Once you get them into a place, you have to support them otherwise they'll never last.
"Social Development is trying, trying to deal with something that's an increasing issue."
Maddox hopes to see more of the city's landlords take in more subsidized tenants. He said the city's vacancy rate is so low that "they don't have to buy in."
With files from Lauren Bird, Phil Drost and Colin McPhail