A newly released report on homelessness in Moncton shows a mix of good and bad news.
Executive Director of the Greater Moncton Homelessness Steering Committee Sue Calhoun says the good news is they are finding increasingly innovative ways to house people.
One of those ways is the Supportive Housing Network which works with the chronically homeless to help them keep their home.
“For example, if they need a referral to deal with addictions, if they need some help with mental health issues, even if they just need someone to teach them how to budget their money, or how to cook, those people are there to support them,” says Calhoun.
Calhoun says with 780 different people using shelters last year with an average stay of a week each, there was no improvement from previous years.
She adds they have been hovering around that number since they started compiling this report 8 years ago.
Calhoun says despite some successes, they aren’t making a significant dent in the numbers.
She believes one of the reasons is the low unemployment rate in Greater Moncton is attractive to migrants.
“There are a lot of jobs, but they pay minimum wage and someone ends up here, probably spending their last dollar to get here and finds that they can’t live on minimum wage in Moncton,” says Calhoun.
The report shows between 2006 and 2011, the population in Greater Moncton went up by 9.7%, more than three times the rate for the province as a whole.
Calhoun says the allocation of provincial resources to combat homelessness hasn’t caught up to the changing migratory patterns.
When it comes to resource allocation, she warns there is a crisis looming when it comes to affordable housing.
Calhoun says social housing providers will be unable to maintain low rent levels as funding from the federal government dries up.
She says as these operating agreements expire, the impact will be felt by the 10,035 units of social housing province wide.
Those units represent three quarters of the entire provincial portfolio of social housing.
Calhoun says research suggests two thirds of those houses will be at risk once the funding is gone and in Greater Moncton that means 1,890 units.
She says the government renewed the Investment In Affordable Housing agreement renewed last April, and it provides 78-million dollars over 5 years.
Calhoun says while that’s good it won’t be enough.
“What it will bring to New Brunswick is 300 new rent supplements for the whole province,” says Calhoun. “We have 1,600 people on the waiting list for social housing in Moncton, and so it’s very limited numbers compared to what we need.”
Calhoun says for every dollar coming into the province through the Investment In Affordable Housing agreement, an estimated $2.20 of federal support will be lost because of those older expiring agreements.