New Brunswick

Former fire station to house Moncton homeless with provincial help

New Brunswick's minister of social development outlined provincial plans to help homeless people in Moncton and Fredericton this winter.

Moncton will receive $106,000 to run shelter at former Assumption Boulevard fire station

Lisa Ryan, left, of YMCA's ReConnect street intervention program in Moncton and Dr. Susan Crouse, Salvus Clinic's co-founder and executive director, in the former Assumption Boulevard fire station. (Shane Magee/CBC News)

The province will spend $453,150 to open temporary homeless shelters in Moncton and Fredericton and boost spending for health care.

Moncton, which requested $400,000 in emergency aid earlier this month, will get $106,000 for a shelter at the former Assumption Boulevard fire station that opens Saturday.

Fredericton will receive $82,150 which will go toward the shelter planned for former Anglican bishop's house.

Dorothy Shephard, the minister of social development, announced the spending in the legislature Thursday.

The province is also boosting rent subsidies to help move people from shelters to apartments. Shephard also said $265,000 will be spent on health-care services for homeless people, such as mental health and addictions support.

The announcement comes amid increasing pressure in recent weeks to care for homeless people without a place to go.

Moncton's two homeless shelters are over capacity and an estimated 120 people are living outdoors in the city, some in tents. 

The shelter will be open daily from 4 p.m. to 8 a.m. and as a warming centre Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The warming centre can hold up to 60 people during the day and 20 cots are available at night.

The fire station will be used as a warming centre during the day and overnight shelter for four months this winter. (Shane Magee/CBC News)

The Salvus Clinic, an organization that offers services to homeless people in Moncton, will run the overnight shelter and  YMCA's ReConnect will operate the warming shelter during the day.

Most of the funding will cover staffing the shelter. ReConnect will have three people on site during the day, while Salvus will have two there overnight. 

"This funding will enable us to meet the immediate needs of this population, as well as address their longer-term needs for permanent supportive housing," Dr. Susan Crouse, Salvus Clinic's co-founder and executive director, said in a news release.

It has bathrooms and laundry facilities, but meals will not be provided at the shelter. That means people using it will have to go to other locations that serve meals during the day. 

Cots will be set up on the old fire station bays. (Shane Magee/CBC News)

Moncton Mayor Dawn Arnold thanked the province for the money. The city owns the fire hall and is using $20,000 set aside by council to pay for an accessible ramp and other changes to the building.

Crouse hopes city residents also step up to volunteer or assist with supplies. 

"I have total confidence in the citizens of Moncton," Arnold said. "Amazing people are stepping up to provide blankets, socks, pillows and those sorts of things and want to help out."

Moncton Mayor Dawn Arnold says the community has stepped up to help the region's homeless people. (Pierre Fournier/CBC)

The official plans were announced the day after a Moncton business owner stepped forward with a large donation of supplies for the Humanity Project to open its own out-of-the-cold shelter as early as this week. 

Second shelter

Donald McHugh bought 40 cots, totes and a 40-foot shipping container for the group based on St. George Street.

Donald McHugh speaks to the CBC's Shane Magee about why he decided to dig deeper this year. 8:13

"There's a need in the community to take care of the homeless and we noticed it wasn't being taken care of quickly enough by others," McHugh said Wednesday. "So we decided to take it on ourselves to do what we can."

Donald McHugh decided to donate cots and other supplies to help the Humanity Project open an overnight emergency shelter for Moncton's homeless after learning about a person sleeping in a tent last week found with signs of frostbite. (Shane Magee/CBC News)

Charles Burrell, the founder of the Humanity Project, previously told CBC his location was one of the two sites the city and province were considering for the official shelter. But he said Wednesday his location wouldn't be used. 

The Humanity Project opened its doors last winter to house people on several frigid nights. It already has 28 cots, so the donated supplies meant he could open and house almost 80 people without government support. 

Shephard told reporters it was "easy" to work with groups already used to Social Development policies and using spaces in the past. 

"We mobilized, we let the City of Moncton work with the community to help develop this initiative, and this is how it worked out," she said.

Dorothy Shephard, New Brunswick's minister of social development, announces funding for emergency homeless shelters in Moncton and Fredericton on Thursday. (Government of New Brunswick)

About the Author

Shane Magee

Reporter

Shane Magee is a Moncton-based reporter for CBC.