Safe Harbour youth facility in Saint John prepares to shut down
Saint John’s new emergency and transitional youth housing shelter is days away from shutting its doors because of a lack of funding.
A lien has been placed on the property and the board of directors has been unable to secure a $440,000 loan guarantee from the Gallant government.
A 22-year-old man named Matt, who until recently resided at Safe Harbour, says the situation is “horrific.” He has battled addiction issues and says he felt at home there.
“It just feels like a lot of the times in my life where I’ll get comfortable somewhere and then I’ll have to leave,” he said.
The youth facility is brand new, having opened last March — but unless something changes, the locks will go on the door Friday.
“It really didn’t fit the Regional Development Corporation’s mandate to support support a program like that,” said Victor Boudreau, the provincial minister responsible for the Regional Development Corporation.
David Edwards, the Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Fredericton, has been lobbying government, unsuccessfully so far, and says it as a matter of justice.
“These young people are vulnerable and we need as a society to actually care for the most vulnerable among us,” he said.
Dr. Keith Brunt, an assistant professor with the faculty of medicine at Dalhousie University New Brunswick in Saint John, is calling on the government to take action and help stabilize the situation quickly.
He said there are long-term consequences to youth marginalization for their personal health and well-being and wants the province to address the situation.
Boudreau says he has not closed the door entirely on Safe Harbour.
“I do know that there are still ongoing discussions to see if there if there are some solutions to that situation,” he said.
Edwards says he is “not terribly optimistic” the closure can be averted.
“We may see a reopening, but that doesn’t have a good or beneficial effect for the 10 young people who are living in the house at the moment,” he said.
Matt has found a new place to live, but he’s concerned for those left behind.
“I feel like I could handle myself more on the streets that a 17-year-old could and that just really worries me a lot,” he said.
© 2016 Shaw Media