N.B. Housing Corp. to build 120 supportive units in New Brunswick cities

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N.B. government announces plans to build affordable housing units
New Brunswick's provincial government has announced plans to build 120 new supportive housing units to help tackle the province's growing homelessness issue. As Silas Brown reports, some opposition critics are arguing that the program overlooks issues outside of the province's main population centres. – Apr 19, 2024

The New Brunswick Housing Corp. will build 120 supportive units to help unhoused people transition back into traditional housing, according to Jill Green, the minister responsible for the Crown corporation.

Green released the figure during an appearance before the legislature’s budget estimates committee and told Global News that the units are part of the government’s shift towards a housing-first approach to the province’s growing homelessness issue.

“It really fits a gap that there is in the system and really a way to support unhoused individuals to move into the housing market, the rental housing market,” she said.

Supportive housing units provide 24/7 wraparound services to help people experiencing homelessness. The province has already partnered with several community-based organizations, such as the 12 Neighbours project in Fredericton and Rising Tide in Moncton. Green said that with the construction of the 120 new units by the NBHC, there will be over 400 supportive units across the province.

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Green said the government adopted a housing-first approach last year and added that the change in strategy is showing results.

“Last year, we housed somebody, a homeless person, one a day on average. So, 365 people we took out of homelessness last year,” she said. “We are seeing real fruits from this labour.”

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However, she wouldn’t answer questions on whether the approach from social development and the NBHC contradicts upcoming forced-rehabilitation legislation that has been promised by the government.

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The housing corporation’s 120 new units will be split evenly between the province’s three biggest cities. It’s expected that the first units in Moncton will be completed this summer, with the remainder opening in the fall.

However, only a handful of units are expected to open in Saint John in the fall, in what Green calls a “pilot.” In Fredricton, work is underway to find a location for the units, which means construction won’t start until next year.

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Liberal housing critic Richard Losier said he’d like to see a greater number of units being built and built sooner.

“No matter what, the number is not enough,” he said. “But again, we can talk about higher numbers but we’re not even getting things built where they should be built, like in Fredericton where none are going to be built this year.”

Green Party housing critic Kevin Arseneau said the initiative is a worthy one, but added that he’s concerned by the lack of units outside of the three main urban centres. More rural areas with homelessness issues, such as Miramichi and St. Stephen, are less likely to have the capacity to see similar projects built without the primary involvement of the provincial government, he said

“I know there’s needs in Moncton, I know there’s needs in Fredericton, I know there’s needs in Saint John, but there’s also needs in rural areas and that’s usually the one that’s going to be last,” he said.

“I think my criticism is they could have better distributed these units all across the province.”

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