A Moncton affordable housing non-profit has purchased its first properties and aims to start moving people in by Labour Day.
The non-profit was launched more than a year ago in response to Moncton's affordable housing plan that called for the city to support a new housing entity that could add cheaper housing to the market.
"We've been busy acquiring properties," Myriam Mekni, Rising Tide's managing director and first staff member, said Friday.
"From the outside it doesn't look like much is happening because we have been closing on a few of them."
Rising Tide declined to specify the exact locations of their newly acquired properties.
However, public property records show a Church Street property and a Dominion Street property were purchased in June. One is expected to have eight housing units, while the second will have seven units.
Mekni said the hope is to start moving people in by Labour Day. One of the properties requires more renovations than the other, she said. Each unit will have its own washroom, and there will be some common spaces.
A vacant lot at the northern edge of downtown Moncton has also been purchased.
Mekni said contractors are already lined up to build a 21-unit apartment building on the property. The aim is to have the building complete in December with people moving in before Christmas.
Mekni said the organization is looking at add several other properties that should allow them to meet the goal of creating 62 affordable units by the end of next March.
Rising Tide expects to hire support staff for those who move into the housing units. Mekni said they're preparing to post job ads in the coming weeks.
Rising Tide will rent some of the properties it owns and renovates to other organizations, such as Harvest House, the YWCA or Crossroads for Women, that already assist people who are homeless by providing emergency shelter beds or transitional housing.
Mekni said those organizations have their own systems already in place for people they're assisting.
"That's why it makes more sense that … all the tenants in one building would be served by that same organization because we don't want any disruption to their services," she said.
"We want it to be a continuity. And it's just to provide more beds for those organizations to be able to house people."
Under the plan, Rising Tide would still own the buildings and be responsible for any renovations and for furnishing them. Some buildings will also be directly managed by Rising Tide.
"All the clients have different needs and all the organizations provide different services," Mekni said. "So we're going to have to adapt and adjust and provide services that suit those needs, so it's not a cookie-cutter system."
The number of homeless people in the region has been climbing in recent years, prompting calls for the municipality to do more. That led the previous city council to vote in favour of providing financial backing to Rising Tide, despite housing mainly being a provincial responsibility.
Trevor Goodwin of the YMCA's ReConnect told CBC in early June that the street outreach service had counted 140 people as homeless, though others who are "sleeping rough" aren't on the list, so the true figure is larger.
Mekni said the organization will help in the mid to long term, but the province needs to increase the availability of mental health and addictions services in the short term.