The P.E.I. Outreach Centre in Charlottetown reached its 50-person capacity multiple times on Saturday as over 100 community members accepted an open invitation to see what the organization is all about.
CBC recently spoke with some neighbours who said there have been issues such as physical and verbal fights, drug use and nudity since the outreach centre moved to the old Charlottetown Curling Club off Euston Street.
However, a longtime resident of the area said the outreach centre is helping the community.
"I was quite pleasantly surprised, it's a wonderful place," said Marel McKay.
"The police have been present in this neighbourhood for a long time, long before the outreach program was put here, so I don't believe that."
McKay lives a few streets from the location. While she said she has spoken to neighbours who have had to call about the disposal of used needles, she hasn't had that experience herself.
"I think with our growing population it is more needed now," she said. "The larger a community gets the more there is going to be a need for a place like this. And I am for it 100 per cent."
While the outreach centre is focused on helping Islanders who are dealing with homelessness, some neighbours have noted some people who stay at the location may be struggling with addiction. They worry there may not be adequate staffing to deal with situations such as overdoses.
The Salvation Army, which manages the centre on behalf of the province, said it's heard the concerns.
"All of our staff are trained to use naloxone, all of our staff are trained in mental health first aid and have first aid training," said Kyron Newbury of the Salvation Army.
Newbury said he wants people to know the centre is not an addiction centre. He said it is a place to help people dealing with homelessness and provide other services to community members who may need them.
At the open house, community groups such as PEER Alliance, John Howard Society and Community Legal Information had information booths.
Some Charlottetown residents have also questioned if the area is the right place for the outreach centre, but Newbury said it's important for people using the services to have a regular location.
"The people who use the service, they need to have a consistent place where they can feel safe, where they can feel at home and where they can get help," he said.
"For our people I want them to have somewhere to be. And I know that there are some struggles in the community right now that we are working with, but this is a great location for people to get help."
The centre moved three times since it opened as a pilot project in January 2020.
Brad Trivers, the minister of Social Development and Housing, said he hopes the outreach will stay in the location for years to come.
"I think it is very important to have a stable location for outreach," he said.
Trivers said he also heard concerns about clients getting proper medical care when they need it — but he had the opportunity at the open house to speak with a person who overdosed recently and the outreach staff member who saved them.
"The outreach centre is literally saving lives in those situations," he said.