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St. Stephen Works To Address Homelessness As A Community

By Brad Perry Oct 12, 2022 | 6:00 AM

A new community working group in St. Stephen is trying to find solutions to homelessness in the town.

The group was formed a few weeks ago by community member Vic Thiessen, who is also a town councillor.

Thiessen reached out to a number of people in the community, including the man in charge of the town’s economic development agency.

“My number one priority for the past couple of years has been housing,” said Kendall Kadatz, president of Future St. Stephen.

Kadatz, who spoke with us in late September, said he had flagged homelessness as a growing concern a year ago.

With market conditions and rent prices on the rise, said it was inevitable that homelessness would become more visible, he said.

“It’s gone from what you would call invisible or hidden homelessness a couple of years ago to a little bit of visible homelessness a year ago and then exploding in the past couple of months,” said Kadatz.

The working group has worked with the Department of Social Development, a local community group, and the town’s Protective Services to get an idea of the current situation in St. Stephen.

A recent survey identified 30 individuals in the community who are homeless, but Kadatz said they do not know the true numbers.

The goal of the survey was also to identify the community’s homeless demographic, what their needs are, and what solutions they would be open to.

“Some people say right away, ‘you should open a shelter.’ If you open a shelter, is anyone going to step inside? Every shelter has rules. If the rules are X, will someone stay there?” said Kadatz.

“Instead of barrelling into a solution, we wanted to do an assessment of the scenario first.”

The group is also working to identify properties that could be used for a shelter or transitional housing, said Kadatz.

In addition, they hope to secure a case manager or outreach worker to aid those who are experiencing homelessness.

Kadatz said they want to have some solutions in place before the snow arrives.

“How are we going to get there? We don’t exactly know yet,” he said.

“This is the first time, to our knowledge, that our community has actively engaged in unsheltered issues. Because it’s been so hidden up until now, it’s dealt with on a case-by-case basis.”

Kadatz said they are reaching out to other communities to better understand how they deal with homelessness.


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