Temporary shelters ease Moncton's homeless crunch, organizers say
Church donation of $106,700 will allow Harvest House to expand by adding more beds and a recovery unit
Up to 90 people are staying at two temporary homeless shelters that opened almost one month ago in Moncton to house people sleeping outside in the city.
The Humanity Project opened a shelter at the end of November with private donations. A second shelter opened Dec. 1 at the former Assumption Boulevard fire station with $136,000 in provincial and municipal funding.
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"It's had its challenges, but I mean overall it's going well," said Lisa Ryan with YMCA's ReConnect street outreach program. The organization is one of two running the Assumption shelter. "We're all learning as we go, because we've never run a shelter before."
In September, ReConnect estimated 120 people were living "rough," some sleeping outside in tents, a figure that helped spur action to boost the city's shelter capacity.
"We do know that there a lot of the folks that we were visiting that are in shelter," Ryan said of people ReConnect previously encountered staying in tents. "However, we also know there are quite a few that are still tenting."
ReConnect is still trying to support those people, but said it has been difficult because staff are busy at the temporary shelter that averages 40 to 60 people during the day. That's resulted in a change of shelter hours in the new year.
The shelter will close in the morning so ReConnect staff can continue their work at the Salvation Army on King Street to help people get official documents or file for support programs.
The overnight shelter at the fire station opened Dec. 1 with 20 beds. That's grown to 45 beds with 30 to 40 people staying overnight.
The Humanity Project, which opened its own overnight shelter Nov. 30, reported housing between 40 and 50 people per night. Charlie Burrell, the founder of the Humanity Project, said things are going well and everyone seems "comfortable and relaxed."
Both locations are meant to be temporary this winter to alleviate the pressure on existing shelters.
One of the city's main homeless shelters is expanding after a big donation from a church through a Christmas collection from its congregation.
Church donated $106,700
Harvest House Atlantic, a shelter with capacity for 35 people, received $106,700 on Sunday from the Moncton Wesleyan Church.
Cal Maskery, executive director and founder of the High Street shelter, said the money will allow the shelter to add more than 20 beds through renovations of its building.
It will also open a nine-month addictions recovery unit for women with eight to 10 beds. The shelter already runs a recovery program for men.
"They wanted to help us make a long-last change so we'd be able to have more beds this winter and going forward," Maskery said.