Many questions, few answers on homeless crisis

At CBC's community forum this week on homelessness in Moncton, many people asked questions about what happens next to solve the housing crisis in the city. 

Here are some of the unanswered questions from this weeks CBC forum on affordable housing

The Greater Moncton Homelessness Steering Committee says the biggest challenge is a lack of affordable housing. (CBC)

At CBC's community forum this week on homelessness in Moncton, many people had questions about what happens next to solve the housing crisis in the city. 

Here are some of the questions people watching the forum asked through social media, along with answers the CBC was able to find.

Until the city makes its housing plans public and the provincial government reveals how it will use $299.2 million in federal funding received as part of the National Housing Strategy, many questions can't be fully answered. 

A summer shelter, are there any plans for the city to address this going forward to make this happen?

This question came from Sherry L. MacEachern on Facebook. At the forum, Vincent Merola, the City of Moncton's community development officer for social inclusion said the city's housing strategy will be presented to Moncton councillors on April 1 for them to review.

He told those at the forum the city realizes the community needs another homeless shelter in addition to more affordable housing, supportive housing and more wrap-around services, but until it knows the province's housing strategy, it can't make plans. 

Two emergency out-of-the-cold shelters in Moncton will close March 31. (Redmond Shannon/CBC)

Is there room for a managed alcohol program (MAP) site in Moncton? 

Serge Bourque asked if people with alcohol related issues could be provided with housing first and then provided with controlled doses of alcohol throughout the day.

Lisa Ryan, the director of YMCA Moncton ReConnect Street Intervention Program, said work is being done on the issue. 

"I do know Salvus clinic has been doing background work into this very effort," Ryan said in an email. "We are hoping to have that included in some of our services eventually."

I want to know what they are going to do for families?

Kelly Martin said she is a mother struggling to make ends meet after leaving an abusive relationship. She said while she has a job, she can't afford a babysitter and pays more than half her wages in rent. She questions how this is reasonable. 

While the three panellists at the forum recognized this issue needed to be addressed, there is no information available on it.  

A report on homelessness in Greater Moncton found fewer people using shelters but said those who do use them stay longer and more often as they struggle to find a place to live. (Serge Martin/Report Card on Homelessness)

What is the city doing to change the eligibility for the homeless to receive white cards for medical without an address?

Amanda Kelly asked why homeless individuals without addresses can't use one of the many municipal agency addresses.

Lisa Ryan, the director of YMCA Moncton ReConnect Street Intervention Program, said it has advocated with the province to have barriers removed and policies changed to improve access to social assistance if there is no fixed address.

"We are seeing some strides towards that and there is talk about access to white cards, hopefully a little bit more leniency with regards to addresses." 

For his part, Burrell said white cards should be tied to an individual, not an address. 

Does the plan include New Brunswick Housing or strictly homelessness?

Dael Alexis was one of many who asked this question on social media during the forum. The City of Moncton's housing strategy will be made public April 1. There has been no indication from Social Development Minister Dorothy Shephard or her department when the province's housing plan will be released or what it might encompass. 

While 37 housing units have been added in Moncton by New Brunswick Housing in the past year, Darcy Cormier of the Homelessness Steering Committee says it isn't enough. (Serge Martin/Report Card on Homelessness)

Why can't the City of Moncton designate some land for tiny home communities?

Krista Green was one of many who asked this question. Charles Burrell said during the forum that if the city gave him a piece of land, he'd be more than happy to build a tiny home community. 

It would be a city council decision, but it would be a discussion that would involve the community, he said. He questioned if people in the city were ready for supportive housing or a tiny house village.

"Nimbyism is a real thing — not in my backyard." 

Merola pointed out it's one thing to say it needs to be done and another to support when it happens.

"Will we allow it in our community? I really hope so." 

Is there a micro-home project in Moncton like I've heard about in Fredericton?

Mike Archibald asked this question on Facebook. CBC is unaware of any plan for a micro-home project in the city.

Fredericton's Housing First is still working to find land to build eight tiny row houses meant to help people transition out of the shelter system.

Are they going to do anything to help with the families struggling or just with individuals?

Kelly Anne Martin asked this question on Facebook. While agencies are working on behalf of the those in crisis and those who are homeless, all are waiting to see the provincial plan. 

Would the federal government funding be able to take some money and create more low-income housing? 

Katlyn Gwen Breneol asked this question with a focus on having more housing for single men and people with no children that have disabilities and have a difficult time getting into affordable housing. 

Again, until the province releases its plan, it's not known what will be created.

Where are these people going to go when they shut down April 1?

Sarah Berry said she's worried about what will happen to homeless people who have been using an out-of-the-cold shelter at the Humanity Project come April 1. 

During the forum, Charles Burrell, founder of the Humanity Project, said he's looking forward to hearing what is going to be done on that date, but he's not confident any shelter-related problems will be solved.

Merola said when the city-run out-of-the-cold shelter closes March 31, the province will put a short-term plan in place to expand capacity at two other shelters, House of Nazareth and Harvest House. 

"It will allow people who are at both of the out-of the-cold shelters to access those facilities." 

He said a long-term permanent shelter is needed in Moncton.


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