The closure of a drop-in centre for the homeless in Moncton has left a gap in service for people in need of housing, treatment for drug addiction and mental health support.
The YMCA Reconnect Intervention Program ran for the past three years but closed in May after its lease was terminated.
The centre was open for three hours every afternoon to provide emergency food, clothing, shelter and assistance with finding housing for people struggling with homelessness.
“I shed many tears, many tears,” says former employee Lisa Ryan.
Since the closure, Ryan is hearing more complaints of people panhandling downtown and gathering in area parks.
“When are you going to have a place for us to come home? That is what someone said, and it really hurt my heart,” says Ryan.
“I want them to have a place that they can come.”
But until they get more funding from the city and the province, additional staff and a larger space, Ryan says they cannot open another drop-in centre.
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Glendon Guthrie was homeless in Moncton for years before getting off the streets. He’s seen an increase in the number of people gathering at Aberdeen Park, some of whom have been destructive.
“They are bending chairs, jumping all over them, and they moved a bunch of benches there,” says Guthrie.
The city says it had not received more official complaints about the park, but it is planning to cut down some of the trees to make the grounds more visible and discourage loitering.
“It is going to get worse because poverty is increasing in our province,” Ryan claims.
Ryan believes low-income earners need a place to go where they can receive long-term solutions.
Street intervention workers are reaching out to clients living on the streets, but Ryan feels that won’t help Moncton’s growing problem with homelessness.
“We are going on the street with no resources, trying to tell people,” says Ryan.
“Until these resources are available, all we are doing is putting bandages on people and it is not going to progress our city.”
With files from Shelley Steeves.