New Brunswick

Saint John group close to goal of housing 30 people by Christmas

A push to house 30 people before Christmas is well on its way to meeting its goal.

Saint John's Human Development Council has housed 11 people, found homes for 13 more

Cathy Foote, the council's affordable housing specialist, said agencies will continue to assist those who are newly housed until they become more secure. (Submitted by Cathy Foote )

A push to house 30 people in Saint John before Christmas is well on its way to meeting its goal.

The Saint John Human Development Council said 11 people who were homeless have moved into housing already.

The group has also secured another 13 units and are working on moving people into them .

Cathy Foote, the council's affordable housing specialist, said told Information Morning Saint John she always had confidence the council would be able to find homes for 30 people.

"Everyone has really just been on board with this effort," said Foote. 

"We still have another [six] to go, so this will definitely be crunch time." 

A good start

A 2018 report from the council indicated that 117 people in Saint John were homeless.

That was before the COVID-19 pandemic, and the economic hardships it brought.

Foote said initiatives like this won't solve the housing problem in Saint John, but it's a good start.

"It is really a vital process to be able to manage the increase in homelessness that all communities in New Brunswick are seeing right now," said Foote. 

"It's opening up some capacity at our existing shelters."

More work ahead

Even when people are finally housed, they still need support.

Foote said this initiative makes it easier to support clients because the group develops a relationship with the people involved.

"One of the benefits of our process is that we know everybody by name and we know what they need, and now we know what they need now that they're in housing," said Foote.

Those people who are newly housed will continue to receive support from community agencies combating homelessness to make sure everything goes smoothly.

Foote said landlords in Saint John have been helpful in finding units for the council's project.

She hopes this will continue and urges any landlords in the city who may have vacancies to reach out to the Human Development Council.

Foote said the project has already had a measurable impact on people's lives.

"One of the individuals that we'll be able to house has a grandchild and she'll be able to wake up with her grandchild on Christmas morning instead of her grandchild being in a foster home," she said. 

"Things like that have been what makes this all worth it."

With files from Information Morning Saint John