Fredericton homeless shelter to open during crucial time
FREDERICTON -- A new emergency homeless shelter is set to open Monday in Fredericton. That’s a great relief for some, who have been spending their nights living in tents by the Saint John River.
Hidden behind Government House, along the Saint John River and the walking trail, is Fredericton’s ‘tent city’.
The winter weather hasn’t been kind to the people who call this place home. November brought sub-zero nights, and lots of snow, and December so far has seen heavy rain and winds.
“I survived it,” says one ‘tent city’ resident, who says she has been living by the River for several months, and aims to be first in line when the Fredericton’s new Out of the Cold Shelter opens Monday evening.
“I’m grateful for having a warm bed to go to every night if I can get there before eight o’clock, because last year there was only 21 people.”
Last year, Fredericton’s homeless population reached a tipping point. As existing shelters were full and winter was coming, the city opened up a temporary emergency shelter, and looked to find a long-term solution.
Last month, New Brunswick’s provincial government and John Howard Society announced the opening of a new shelter.
The John Howard Society has been renovating the building at 332 Brunswick St. over the last month, and it is now supposed to open on Monday.
“The homeless situations has become noticeable, and I think the public is really understanding the need,” said Dorothy Shephard, New Brunswick’s Minister of Social Development, on November 28th.
Rocky Cummings says he’s been on and off the streets for years. He has now found himself a room, but comes and checks on his friends that have been living in the ‘tent city’.
“I’ve got friends in low places. It’s rough, this is just.. it’s terrible,” says Cummings.
He wants to see the city create more permanent options for his friends to find shelter.
While the shelter is set to open Monday, there is still a lot of work to be done. They are looking for volunteers and donations, like long underwear, winter boots, handwarmers, towels, coats and snow pants. Any donation can be dropped off at the Wilmot United Church before December 20.