Charlottetown emergency housing shelter close to ready, but MLA wants help now

No government has done more for the homeless on P.E.I., says Housing Minister Matt MacKay. (Province of P.E.I. - image credit)
No government has done more for the homeless on P.E.I., says Housing Minister Matt MacKay. (Province of P.E.I. - image credit)

An emergency housing shelter will open on Park Street in Charlottetown this month, says Housing Minister Matt MacKay, but Green MLA Karla Bernard wants to know what the province is doing to help the homeless in the meantime.

Modular units that will make up the Park Street shelter have arrived and are being set up by contractors. The purchase of the units was prompted by a rapid growth of people living in tents in Charlottetown. Some have been moved to the Charlottetown Event Grounds, where they have been provided with some limited services, such as portable toilets.

"We're constantly told that government has a case-management plan for unhoused Islanders," Bernard said in the legislature Wednesday, and went on to ask what plan it had for those in tents at the event grounds.

"If the province is not ready to house these individuals yet, what is it doing to ensure these Islanders have access to heat and electricity at the event grounds until the housing units are ready?"

MacKay did not address the immediate question of those at the Charlottetown Event Grounds, but said his government has done more for the homeless than any other government in P.E.I. history, with particular reference to the new Park Street shelter.

"We're done everything we could and they're underway. There's 51 units down there, and we were able to do that in a matter of 90 days," said MacKay.

"We need to continue working to improve. My department has gone to homeless shelters all across this country. We know what we need to do to improve and we know we're going to get there."

The next step will be to provide 24-7 access for the homeless shelter, he said. The current plan is for the shelter to open only from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. Each of the 51 units has one or two bedrooms, with a shared bathroom and shower.