Moncton comes to aid of city's homeless population during inclement weather
HALIFAX -- With winter weather blanketing the Maritimes, multiple street-level agencies gathered in Moncton on Friday to discuss an emergency action plan to help the city's homeless population when cold weather strikes. As temperatures dip to extreme lows, nearly two dozen frontline and outreach workers agree there is a need for daytime warming shelters, as well as overnight shelters.
John Howard Society executive director, Joanne Murray, says most shelters in the city typically shut down between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. to prepare for the evening hours they are open – leaving those without shelter exposed to the elements.
"Some people are still able to sleep without shelter, even though that's not what we like,” says Murray. “But when the temperatures hit -20, -30, we want to make sure that everyone who is sleeping rough has shelter."
YMCA Reconnect program senior director of outreach, Trevor Goodwin, says there are roughly 164 homeless people in Moncton, but only 64 of them are using available shelter beds.
“There's 100 people somewhere in the city that aren't accessing shelter that are reportedly sleeping rough – but we aren't seeing those numbers," says Goodwin.
Goodwin says the group is working on a temperature limit. Once the limit is reached, it will mandatory for shelters across the city to open their doors.
“The school district has a temperature when you can't let your kids outside during recess; they have a temperature for when they cancel schools,” says Goodwin. “I just think the same precautions need to be taken for our vulnerable population.”
Moncton Public Library librarian, Chantale Bellemare, says due to the lack of daytime options, people are turning to the library for support.
“We do see a lot of people that seem to be in a very vulnerable situation,” says Bellemare. “They use libraries to access public computers, socialize, to have a place where you can stay warm during the day –sheltered from the elements.”
Meanwhile, the community continues to rally together to support those who don’t have a place to call home during the toughest months of the year.