Fredericton group seeks long-term solution to chronic homelessness as temporary shelter slated to close
The Fredericton Community Action Group on Homelessness is asking all three levels of government for assistance to make a long-term plan for ending chronic homelessness as the Brunswick Street emergency shelter, which opened its doors on Dec. 1, is set to close on March 31.
“Municipally, there are actions (officials) can take to support the creation of more affordable housing. Provincially, they need to be able to deliver on a provincial housing strategy,” said Faith McFarland, executive director of the Community Action Group on Homelessness.
WATCH: Out of the Cold shelter asking for permission to remain open this winter
McFarland also says the group wants the federal government to provide funding in support of the Road Home initiative, a multi-year strategy to eliminate homelessness in Fredericton. The plan came out of a wide-ranging investigation into approaches and actions that will lead to ending homelessness in the city.
The group thinks they are just years away from reaching their goal, but the challenge is to ensure that there is access to both safe, affordable and adequate housing and services to help the homeless maintain that housing.
“The scope of the problem is co-ordinating those two streams, getting them access to rent subsidization but also making sure there’s clinical teams that are designed to work well with people that have been chronically underserved,” said McFarland.
Since its highly debated opening, 54 men and women have stayed at the temporary Out of the Cold shelter on Brunswick Street. Each night, the shelter has been operating at maximum capacity, housing 20 displaced Fredericton residents.
The shelter originally opened one day late after a delay that was caused by a municipal bylaw limiting the number of unrelated people living under one roof to four. The Fredericton planning advisory committee voted unanimously to keep the shelter open during a city council meeting.
WATCH: Organization behind Out of the Cold shelter challenging Fredericton to find solution for homelessness
Fredericton city council voted last year to use land on Regent and St. Mary’s streets for the construction of affordable housing.
According to the Community Action Group, it will cost $21,000-$30,000 a year to house these individuals compared to the $55,000-$134,000 it currently costs when the homeless consistently use shelters, hospitals and jails.
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