Nova Scotia

Co-ed shelter in Cape Breton will better serve area's homeless

A new 20-bed homeless shelter owned by the Cape Breton Community Housing Foundation and operated by the Cape Breton Community Housing Association will open this fall in Sydney. Renovations on a commercial building on Townsend Street are underway.

Federal government announces more than $800K to complete renovations

Fred Deveaux is the executive director of the Cape Breton Community Housing Association. (George Mortimer/CBC)

A new 20-bed homeless shelter owned by the Cape Breton Community Housing Foundation and operated by the Cape Breton Community Housing Association will open this fall in Sydney.

Renovations on a commercial building on Townsend Street are underway.

On Friday, retiring Sydney-Victoria MP Mark Eyking announced a $858,000 federal commitment to complete the renovations.

The province previously announced $150 000 to support the purchase and renovation of the new building. There is also a provincial commitment of $618,000 toward shelter management.

Sydney-Victoria MP Mark Eyking announced $858,000 to support a new homeless shelter in Cape Breton. (CBC)

Fred Deveaux, executive director of the housing association, said the current shelter on Margaret Street is often at capacity.

"On average, we're seeing about 45 to 50 people using the shelter every month and a lot of them are new people," he said.

'Good success rate'

The goal is to help those who enter the shelter find a permanent home when they leave.

Deveaux said the organization has a "good success rate" and finds housing for about 30 people each month. Others, he said, make their own arrangements.

The new shelter will offer more amenities and space, doubling the size of the current shelter. Men, woman and youth will have separate entrances and spaces. 

"It's fully accessible, so it will have elevator access," Deveaux said. "There's ample opportunity for people to come in and have a nice bright place to stay and start to work with staff to change their situation."

Affordable rentals hard to find

According to Deveaux, a shortage in affordable rental units makes finding affordable housing a struggle.

"It's very difficult to find suitable affordable housing right now in the municipality," he said. "Our staff do a very good job and have established good relationships with specific landlords but it is still a daily struggle to find safe, affordable housing for people who need it."

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jennifer Ludlow

Associate producer

Jennifer Ludlow is an associate producer and technical director for Mainstreet Cape Breton and also works as a reporter. All tips are welcome. Contact her at jennifer.ludlow@cbc.ca

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