A much-anticipated men’s shelter in Halifax’s North End is just weeks away from opening.
The new space, located on the third floor of Souls Harbour Rescue Mission on Cunard Street, will provide much-needed accommodations for up to ten men.
“We are literally at the final stretch of this race of building our Life Recovery Shelter,” Souls Harbour CEO Michelle Porter tells Global News.
“We’ve got some plumbing things to look after and I’m just excited to meet the need of people who don’t have a place to stay.”
The project, which is a couple years in the making, was made possible almost entirely through private donations. Porter says one thing that makes the shelter “extra special” is that it’s fully accessible.
“We have two rooms that will be available for wheelchairs, we have a lift, and we have a wheelchair roll-in shower that we’ll also be able to make accessible to the public,” she says.
Porter says the need for shelter space in Halifax was “huge” before, but the pandemic has only exacerbated the issue.
“There are people coming for our meals that are living in their cars, there are people coming for our meals at Souls Harbour who have told us that they’re living in the bush, they’re living under a bridge,” Porter says.
Their drop-in centre, which provides hot, nutritious lunches on weekdays, has also experienced a huge spike in the number of guests coming in for meals, says Porter.
“A busy day would be 150 guests coming in for a meal. Now that it’s take-out, to-go meals, we are serving — I mean, our busiest day was 350 — so overall we’ve calculated an increase in over 250 per cent,” says Porter.
The charity had hoped to open its doors in time for Winter, but COVID-19 delayed the project. Porter says they’re now hoping to have the rooms ready for guests before Spring.
“It’s uncomfortable for everyone to just know that someone’s brother or sister is sleeping outside,” she says.
“It’s getting to be very exciting and I’m just wondering who our first ten men will be.”