City funds homeless centre and shelter, keeping people out of the cold

·2 min read

The City of Fredericton is giving the Phoenix Learning Centre and the overnight out–of–the–cold shelter Marshall House funding to help keep the doors of the learning centre open longer and to get people into the shelter more quickly.

"People who are homeless, not only are they having trouble in the night time, but in the daytime, there's just not a place for them to go," said Joan Kingston, chair of the Community Action Group on Homelessness.

Guests at the shelter have had to wait in long queues to register under COVID precautions, sometimes up to a couple of hours.

"Because every night it's first come, first served," said Kingston.

The Phoenix Learning Centre opened last fall. It's a place for people who are homeless to go during the day to stay out of the cold, since most public spaces are closed because of the pandemic.

The one-time, $20,000 funding from the city will also make registering for Marshall House a little easier. People will be able to register at the Phoenix centre and then move over to Marshall House when it opens at 9 p.m.

"Which means that people will be able to stay in the warmth and comfort of the Phoenix Learning Centre," said Kingston.

Gary Moore/CBC
Gary Moore/CBC

Scott Earle is the co–ordinator at the Phoenix Centre.

He said that during the red level, an average of 44 people were coming to the centre each day.

"So now they know that, okay from 8 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. they know they have a place to go, whether it's red, yellow, green, blue, it doesn't matter. It's just one place they can't' be turned away from."

City council voted to fund the project in a meeting Monday night.

"This was a small request that could have an immediate, significant impact," said Mayor Mike O'Brien. "So that's the reason we decided to fund this one."

Kingston says the learning centre should be able to start operating with extra hours this weekend.