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New Brunswick

New Brunswick’s homelessness crisis: Housing shouldn’t be ‘deserved,’ expert says – New Brunswick

As New Brunswick sees a record number of homeless people living outdoors, one expert says involving those in need should be at the forefront of housing solutions.

dr Sara Davidson, director of the River Stone Recovery Center in Fredericton, said while homelessness is a complex problem, there are solutions.

“I think to say that something is just unsolvable is to give up in a way that we don’t have to, in a way that would deny a lot of people’s human rights,” she said.

Continue reading:

The faces of the New Brunswick homeless crisis: ‘We are treated as less’

It’s also an expensive problem. But Davidson argues that leaving people homeless costs a lot more.

Davidson said the cost of one homeless person a year is “staggering,” with some Canadian studies finding figures in the tens of thousands of dollars. According to a 2012 study of the nationwide cost of homelessness, between $4.5 billion and $6 billion was spent annually on short-term homelessness responses.

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“That’s the cost of not housing them,” Davidson said. “That’s the cost of hospitalizations, incarceration, emergency room visits and all emergencies.”

With more than 100 people without shelter in Fredericton alone, that’s “a huge amount of money going to waste”.

Continue reading:

The New Brunswick Homelessness Crisis and How It’s Reaching a Boiling Point

Davidson said the New Brunswick branch of the John Howard Society recently found that housing one person and providing the necessary support resulted in savings of more than $90,000 a year for the group.

She said while upfront financing is required for housing construction, it is required in New Brunswick anyway.

In October, the New Brunswick government announced $100 million to build state-owned public housing for the first time in nearly four decades. The province plans to build 380 units over the next four years, while an additional $2 million is earmarked for the renovation of 110 unused units. Funding brings 40 units each to Moncton, Saint John and Fredericton.

The Executive Director of the Human Development Council, Randy Hatfield, said at the time there will always be those who say this type of funding is inadequate, but that it is “a positive step forward on the province’s part”.

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Continue reading:

New Brunswick announces $102 million in public housing

In 2022, New Brunswick also promised:

  • $560,000 through Affordable Rental Housing Program to create 14 affordable rental housing units in Fredericton
  • $8 million over three years to better support emergency shelters
  • $3.6 million in joint funding with the federal government for a 12-unit transitional shelter for women experiencing homelessness in Saint John
  • $205,000 to Saint John nonprofit groups to help renovate affordable housing
  • $1.6 million in joint funding with the federal government for the creation and renovation of 56 housing units in Northeast NB
  • $1.4 million forgivable loan to 12 Neighbors Community Inc. micro home project in Fredericton

Davidson said the recent $100 million announcement was a “valiant effort.” But with more than 100 people living outdoors in Fredericton alone, 40 units over four years is “just a zero less” than necessary.

“This is also a 30 or 40 year car accident… This is not solely the responsibility of this particular government,” she said.

But she said it’s time to make bold changes and housing alone won’t do it.

Housing First approach

According to Davidson, the current housing system excludes people who have problems with mental health and substance use.

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Continue reading:

NB: The affordable housing waiting list has grown by 2,000 since the housing contract was signed

Meaningful solutions to chronic homelessness involve those who experience them firsthand.

They also include the Housing First approach – an idea that people don’t have to work towards housing.

“We don’t have to prove to people that they’re worth an apartment.”

“We don’t have to get people off drugs and substances to say, ‘You’re going to be housed now,’ because substance use is a chronic health problem,” Davidson said.

“Some people have very severe psychotic disorders living outside, unmet mental health needs that are very serious.”

Click here to play the video:

How the New Brunswick homelessness crisis reached a boiling point

Once people are housed, all-round support needs to follow, which may include staffing for mental health crises, enrollment in safe substance use programs, or assistance in returning to the labor market.

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“It’s recognizing where people are, it’s building on their strengths… But you don’t do all of that to earn housing.”

Davidson applies this approach to her clinic. A River Stone customer, who has agreed not to be named by Global News, said participating in the opioid agonist therapy program helped her mental health.

The woman developed an addiction to painkillers and over time lost secure housing. She started treatment less than two years ago and even started working at the center a year ago.

A woman who began treatment at the River Stone Recovery Center less than two years ago was able to start work at the center a year ago.

Nathalie Sturgeon / Global News

“I guess I felt like a drug addict for the first six months, you know? And now I don’t really know who I am, but I don’t feel that anymore because I — it’s almost like a goal.”

Although it still doesn’t feel like home, she no longer lives outdoors and a job at the center has boosted her self-esteem.

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“I wake up knowing that I’m needed somewhere and wanted somewhere.”

A New Brunswicker took the Housing First approach into his own hands.

Behind the 12 Neighbors Inc. project is Marcel LeBrun, who describes himself as a philanthropist and social entrepreneur.

Continue reading:

NB Tiny Home Community settles its first residents

His nonprofit project involves building a community of tiny homes on a 24-acre lot on the north side of Fredericton.

Each 23-square-foot home features a full kitchen, three-piece bathroom, living area, and loft. As a fully-fledged quarter, the municipality will have lots of greenery and mixed-use areas. There will also be a social enterprise center with a café.

The first residents moved into their micro home a year ago, and as of last week, 36 homes have been completed.

Marcel LeBrun says his nonprofit project is now building one microhome a week to speed up the process of moving people inside.

Nathalie Sturgeon / Global News

“Housing is the beginning. It’s really about “how we help people overcome barriers to living independently,” LeBrun said.

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“Most of the people who have moved into our community have either come from emergency shelters or, in some cases, straight from the rough life.

But it doesn’t stop there.

“We help people… expand their social network of supportive relationships and then pursue their goals, personal growth, and a path to employability,” he said.

LeBrun said some community members who have been there for less than a year are now employed full-time, and some have even stopped on welfare.

Being housed is the first step in recovering from drug use, trauma and poverty, he added.

“It’s amazing how much energy you have to work on these things once you’re safe and warm.”

Editor’s note: This story is part 3 of a three part series on the New Brunswick homeless crisis.

Part 1: New Brunswick’s homelessness crisis and how it’s reaching a boiling point

Part 2: The Faces of the New Brunswick Homeless Crisis: “We Are Treated as Inferior”

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