Warren Maddox believes the work done at emergency shelters in New Brunswick has vastly changed in recent years.
Increased instances of mental health issues or drug addiction have led the shelters to increase programming, services and supports to meet clients’ needs.
“The shelters are doing a whole lot more in a much, much more complex world or ecosystem than we were even five or six years ago,” the executive director of Fredericton Homeless Shelters Inc., told Global News on Friday.
Maddox said it’s a change the province acknowledged by announcing an additional $8 million over three years for New Brunswick emergency shelters.
Announced Thursday, the funding will increase financial resources available to the nine emergency shelters in the province.
Maddox admitted he’s unsure exactly how that money will be spent at this point, but said he knows it will help further the work they’re trying to do.
“What we want to do is set people up so that they’re able to make it out there in the world, and that takes more than just sort of putting them in an apartment,” Maddox said.
“It’s also supporting them while they’re there to make sure they make that transition from the shelters to independent living as successfully as they humanly can.”
With another winter on the doorstep, Maddox said there are plans to assemble overnight shelters to increase capacity.
“The concerning part is the numbers aren’t going down,” he noted, adding the demand is “outstripping our supply.”
Statistics published by the Human Development Council for August indicated between Moncton, Fredericton and Saint John, there are 519 individuals experiencing homelessness.
In an interview with Global News, New Brunswick Social Development Minister Dorothy Shephard said how the latest funds will be spent is up to the shelters.
“This at first will be based on needs, but then it will be used to work with our nine shelters in the province to implement programs and strategies that help them work to those outcomes we’re looking for,” she said at her constituency office in Saint John, N.B. Friday.
Stakeholders have indicated shelter occupancy rates are already near capacity, Shephard said.
She noted shelters will now have more resources to send individuals to other services without having to stay at the shelter.
Encampments are still visible in each of New Brunswick’s three largest cities, many of which will not be a viable option throughout the winter due to frigid temperatures.
In the past, out-of-the-cold shelters have been funded by the province based on the overall need within the community. However, this year, Shephard said plans are already in the works to organize these types of resources.
“So that we can ensure the people in all our cities and areas that there is a plan in place to assist those who are in vulnerable situations,” Shephard said.
As for a timeline, the minister said she expects to announce finalized details in the next two to three weeks.