Nova Scotia

Homeless shelter to help with addictions

A shelter of last resort in Halifax will soon offer addictions counselling to the men escaping the cold.

80% of men at Metro Turning Point are addicts

A shelter of last resort in Halifax will soon offer addictions counselling to the men escaping the cold.

Shelter Nova Scotia is teaming up with Capital Health for a pilot project set to start at the Metro Turning Point shelter in January.

Bill Pratt, the group's executive director, hopes it changes lives.

"When you come to the shelter our first job is to get you safe, get you warm, and then let's start talking about where are you going to next," Pratt told CBC News.

"If you have addiction issues, whether it's prescription drugs, illegal drugs, alcohol … that just gets in the way of having any real conversations about getting you to a spot that is going to be much better and allow you to move forward with your life."

Pratt estimates that 80 per cent of the men at the shelter have some kind of addiction.

Training shelter staff to deliver addictions counselling means these men are more likely to get help. For people who are homeless, getting to a detoxification centre or day program can be an ordeal.

"They may not have bus fare, remembering their appointment, getting there at the right time — all those barriers that get in the way, so eventually the men just say, 'I'm not going,'" Pratt said.

Pratt said if the men get help with their addictions, that should help with the next step of finding a suitable place to live.

The shelter on Barrington Street is open 24 hours a day. There is room for up to 80 men.

now