The Out of the Cold shelter that defied municipal zoning laws has now been open for a week, and it’s operating at full capacity each night.
But with the future of the temporary shelter up for deliberation at this week’s city council meeting in Fredericton, shelter workers say they hope to remain open until March 31, 2019.
The shelter’s delayed opening was due to a municipal zoning issue restricting the number of unrelated people under one roof.
“This is a good house for this purpose,” said Joan Kingston, chair of the Community Action Group on Homelessness, the group behind the shelter.
“The temporary variance should be granted and we look forward to being able to offer this as an option for people who were sleeping in the cold.”
Faith McFarland, executive director of Community Action Group on Homelessness, says the real problem is the lack of affordable housing available in the city and throughout New Brunswick.
“It has a lot more to do with the availability of affordable housing, not shelter beds, so I think it’s not about more shelter beds,” McFarland said. “It’s about using the shelter beds we have now more effectively.”
That means changing the systems that are currently in place, she says, so users don’t need to stay long-term at the shelters.
“We really need our shelter system to house people for longer periods of time before we can actually help them enter the housing market, simply because the inventory is not there.”
Community Action Group on Homelessness recently published a road map to ending homelessness, looking at trends around housing security and shelter usage.
Now the group says it is eager to get the final word on if the shelter will stay or close down for the remainder of the winter season.
The shelter has been running at maximum capacity, with 20 men and women of all ages using the shelter every night.
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