Where Moncton’s homeless will spend the winter
There are currently just over 400 homeless people in the Greater Moncton area. About 160 people will be staying at the Harvest House or House of Nazareth, but it’s not yet known where the rest will sleep when winter comes.
The location for an emergency shelter has not yet been announced.
Jackie Kerr has been on and off the road for about four years and she doesn’t yet know where she will be when the temperature drops.
“I hope that maybe (public) housing will come through. It’s a huge waiting list,” Kerr said.
The lack of affordable housing and the drug crisis are currently the main problems facing the homeless.
Around 20 people have died in the city from a drug overdose since January.
“It’s scary. We’ve lost a lot of people lately,” said an emotional Kerr. “Get fentanyl the fuck off the streets ’cause it’s killing us.”
Michael Fougere has lived on and off the road for almost 20 years. He has shelter for the winter, but knows how brutal life can be.
“It sucks. You’d have to experience it to know it. It’s really hard for us,” said Fougere.
Like Kerr, Fougere said fentanyl is a plague among the homeless population.
“It’s really bad. The fentanyl is garbage. Fentanyl kills people,” Fogere said.
Charlie Burrell has been running the Humanity Project, a support center for the homeless and working poor, for eight years. He says he’s never seen the drug problem in Moncton look so bad.
“I’ve never seen so many homeless people tell me they’re afraid to be on the streets like they have in the last six months to a year. You know, it’s not safe out here at night,” Burrell said.
Another major concern for Moncton’s vulnerable population is where the more than 200 people not in shelters will stay when the temperature drops.
A former downtown fire station and the Anglican St George’s Church were used as emergency shelters last year, but both buildings are unsuitable for overnight stays and will not be used again this winter.
The Greater Moncton and Harvest House YMCA submitted a cold shelter proposal to the provincial government last month, but the province has not yet announced details or the location.
In Halifax, the CEO of the Souls Harbor Rescue Mission says she sees a lot of people sleeping in parks, on streets and in their cars, and that’s a big problem with winter approaching.
“At Souls Harbour, we’re really concerned about what we can do to help people who are having trouble sleeping,” said Michelle Porter. “We have nine emergency shelters, that doesn’t help the situation anywhere. We put our heads together. Can we just put cots on the floor in our free market? How can we help alleviate true and real homelessness? ?”