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The Social Development building on Somerset Street in Saint John will be used as an out-of-the-cold shelter. Image: ©2023 Google

Community hub for homeless opens in Saint John

By Brad Perry Feb 6, 2024 | 1:00 PM

A new community hub for people experiencing homelessness has opened in Saint John.

The hub is located in the same Somerset Street building as the out-of-the-cold overnight shelter.

It is designed to provide a warm and safe place for the city’s unhoused population to go during the day.

The hub also offers wraparound services to prevent homelessness and support unhoused residents.

Provincial officials initially said the hub would not be open until the temporary shelter closed in late April.

But Social Development Minister Jill Green committed to opening it much sooner during an early January news conference.

Green acknowledged that the death of Evan McArthur, along with the community advocacy, played a role in getting the timeline sped up.

McArthur died on Jan. 7, one day after a fire broke out in a tent encampment located in Saint John’s north end.

“We had been focusing on the out-of-the-cold shelter in that particular building. There are two more floors that we can do some great things on,” she said.

“We had worked collaboratively with the community for the April start, but the hand was raised and we’ve found a way to get it done faster.”

Green said the hub will also help build relationships with people experiencing homelessness, acknowledging that trust issues are why some people do not feel comfortable in shelters.

“They can come in, get warmed up, start building relationships with us. We know it takes time; it’s not instant and you have to build relationships with them,” she said.

Officials also announced Tuesday that six more beds had been created at the Coverdale Centre for Women on Waterloo Street.

Both the out-of-the-cold shelter and the community hub are operated by Outflow Ministry Inc.