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‘Community Hub’ to create affordable housing units in Moncton

Frontline workers say the announcement of new affordable housing options in Moncton is a great step toward ending homelessness. Callum Smith has more.

A new development in Moncton will finally be what frontline workers have been calling on for a long time, some affordable housing units.

The John Howard Society of Southeastern New Brunswick is partnering with Visions United Church to create what’s being called a ‘Community Hub.’

“We have the affordable housing piece, we have a teaching kitchen, we have multi-purpose room, and we’re really looking to bring community to the neighbourhood,” says Joanne Murray, the executive director of the local John Howard Society.

Joanne Murray, the executive director of the John Howard Society of Southeastern New Brunswick.
Joanne Murray, the executive director of the John Howard Society of Southeastern New Brunswick. Callum Smith / Global News

There will be 20 apartment units in the hub with subsidized rent to help put a roof over the heads of people in need.

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Tenants will be chosen from the province’s housing waitlist, which was at more than 4,418 households as of March 31, according to the Department of Social Development.

READ MORE: Frustration grows amid delayed opening of Moncton’s new homeless shelter

But not all of those people are without a home, department spokesperson Abigail McCarthy says, as some may “simply be looking for bigger or smaller units, or to move to a different area of their city.”

The hub will be located on Joyce Avenue off of McLaughlin Road.

Lisa Ryan, the community development coordinator for the Greater Moncton Homelessness Steering Committee, has long said that shelters aren’t the solution to homelessness, and that people need more housing options and other supports.

READ MORE: People living in Moncton tent city grateful for getting temporary approval to stay

But while homelessness is a key priority, she says they’re also focusing on the prevention component.

“There’s many individuals who are living in our province that are living in what we call ‘precariously-housed situations,'” Ryan says. “They’re also spending more than 50 per cent of their income on their rent or costs to live which makes the likelihood of falling into homelessness very real.”

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Lisa Ryan, of the Greater Moncton Homelessness Steering Committee, says the project is “exactly what our community as whole needs”
Lisa Ryan, of the Greater Moncton Homelessness Steering Committee, says the project is “exactly what our community as whole needs” Callum Smith / Global News

Meanwhile, Paul Pellerin, a Moncton city councillor, says all three levels of government should be reaching out to both the John Howard Society and Visions United Church to learn from what they’re doing.

“And see how they’re addressing this, and seeing if it’s a model we can reproduce,” he tells Global News. “We’re (governments are) spending an inordinate amount of time discussing and not doing.”

READ MORE: Tent city putting ‘big pressure’ on new Moncton homeless shelter, director says

But for those behind the project, they’re looking forward to bringing the community together.

“We’re going to be going out and asking the neighbourhood what kind of services they want to have,” Joanne Murray says. “We’ll seek existing non-profits or private individuals who provide those services and they can rent space in our building.”

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The land used for the ‘Community Hub’ will be located at 140 Joyce Avenue in Moncton
The land used for the ‘Community Hub’ will be located at 140 Joyce Avenue in Moncton Callum Smith / Global News

She says the project is estimated to cost $4.2-million, and they’re waiting for final approval from both the provincial government and the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.

They hope to break ground in October, she says, with an opening date expected in August of 2020.

A community information session is scheduled for 1 p.m. on Sept. 26 in the Knights of Columbus building at 91 Murphy Avenue.