Concern about Moncton's homeless grows as mercury drops
With poor weather and cold temperatures -- and shelters already full – there are questions about where will people turn after a crackdown on a tent city in Moncton.
Ronald Straight came to New Brunswick in 2000. He's worked off and on, but his health prevents him from holding down a full time job.
Moving from a stable situation in Maine, Straight found himself in a Fredericton shelter.
“Everybody there had a story, why they were there and I got to know a lot of people,” he said.
Now, Straight is in Moncton, and still trying to find a job and a permanent place to stay. In the meantime, Harvest House is home.
“If I'd have been by myself, I don't know what I would have done,” Straight said. “Being here was a blessing.”
Turns out he's not alone. Homeless shelters in the city are busting at the seams.
“Probably by December, usually by December until the end of march or April. we're open 24-7,” said Cal Maskery of Harvest House.
Harvest House has a policy of not turning anyone away.
Their 34-bed emergency shelter has been running over capacity. Two weeks ago they had 57 people in their facility. Coping with the overflow can be overwhelming for staff.
“We can only take so many in our upstairs shelter,” Maskery said. “We've had to open our community shelter and have somebody on downstairs as well, so it's an extra body for another 12 hours a night.”
Those who don't take refuge in a shelter tend to make one of their own. Lisa Ryan is with the YMCA's Reconnect program.
“A lot of them are makeshift, they do have some equipment but the tents are not in great shape,” Ryan said. “They are not equipped to withstand winter.”
Ryan says there are three main reasons homelessness is on the rise: a lack of mental health support, a lack of addiction services, and a lack of affordable housing.
With frigid temperatures in the forecast, Ryan says people will do what they can to stay warm.
“Some are using candles under terra-cotta pots, which provide some heat, but again it's dangerous when you're in a tent,” she said.
Unfortunately for some, they have no where else to go.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Jonathan MacInnis.