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'They treat us like gold': New home, new hope for Moncton’s homeless

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In the 10 years he’s been helping the homeless, Charlie Burrell says his heart has never been fuller.

The founder of Moncton’s Humanity Project has taken 12 people off the streets and brought them to a 187-acre farm near Salisbury, N.B.

“To see them talking about their hopes and their dreams or their children or what they’re goals are again and thinking differently and talking differently… it’s beautiful,” said Burrell.

Burrell’s guests have heated bunk houses and are receiving counselling while trying to put a life of drugs and violence behind them.

Jason Melvin came to the farm in mid-December.

“Me, it’s drugs. Just chasing the next high. Doing what I had to do to survive,” said Melvin. ”I’m sick of it. I’m too old. I have a son. I want to be in his life.”

In 2023, 55 homeless people died in Moncton, more than 30 from a drug overdose.

Burrell said there’s been a few more so far this year, including one earlier this week.

“The drugs, the things that they’re mixing them with and putting in them it’s dangerous. It’s very dangerous. Unfortunately, unless we have more places like this that can help people that want it and need it, unfortunately we’re just going to keep seeing things the same thing over and over,” said Burrell. “That affects families.”

Jason Ward said he’s been clean for a few weeks and wants his family in Labrador to know he’s doing OK.

“I like it here. It’s quiet. It’s different than being out on the street. Being out on the street is kind of ruthless,” said Ward.

Jason Ward is pictured. (Source: Derek Haggett/CTV News Atlantic)Both Ward and Melvin are extremely grateful for Burrell, his family and the volunteers that are giving them a new home and a new hope.

“I’ve been clean since I got here. It’s a really good thing. They treat us like gold,” said Melvin. “They’re angels. This is a good place.”

Ward said no one wants a life on the street.

“Nobody. It’s hectic in the winter time when you’ve got no blankets, no nothing like that and you’re trying to find something warm to go on after sleeping in bathrooms, after sleeping on benches and sidewalks,” said Ward.

Burrell has received municipal and government funding as well as private donations in order to build 21 bunk houses and to provide addiction and mental health services on site.

“If everybody that says ‘Why can’t this happen in my community?’ got together and came up with a plan, it would happen in your community,” said Burrell. “Money doesn’t fix problems, people taking action fixes problems.”

Burrell said the plan is to bring three more people out to the farm by the end of the week and three more by the end of next week.

Six more people off the streets and getting another chance at life. 

For more New Brunswick news visit our dedicated provincial page.

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