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Neighbourhood Works is located in the former Holy Rosary Catholic Church in St. Stephen. Image: Mark Downey

St. Stephen warming centre closing next week

By Brad Perry Apr 26, 2024 | 5:00 AM

Many unhoused people in St. Stephen will be left without refuge or shelter in just a few days.

The 24-hour warming centre, which is operated by Neighbourhood Works, will close on Tuesday.

With no homeless shelter in the community, residents who rely on the centre will be forced to the streets.

Neighbourhood Works and the Warming Centre Working Group released a statement Thursday saying the community faces a “pressing dilemma” with the impending closure.

“Despite the diligent efforts of Neighbourhood Works and the Warming Centre Working Group, the support and generosity of our community and Charlotte County at large and funding from the provincial government, there is currently no solution in place,” said the two groups.

“While dialogue has been ongoing, the lack of a concrete plan puts the well-being of our entire community at serious risk, leaving vulnerable individuals without essential resources and care.”

The 24/7 drop-in centre has been operating since December but has only been able to offer sleeping accommodations since February.

When the province made that announcement, officials said the centre would only operate 24/7 until mid- to late April.

“The impending closure underscores the urgent need for a sustainable, long-term solution to support our most vulnerable community members, as well as the community at large,” said Neighbourhood Works and the Warming Centre Working Group.

“The long-term plan must include providing support 24 hours per day, seven days per week. This is essential for addressing homelessness, mental health, and public safety in our community effectively.”

In their statement, the two groups went on to acknowledge the success of the warming centre over the past winter.

They said it served as a vital refuge for those experiencing homelessness by providing warmth and support during harsh conditions.

“With continued support and a collaborative long-term plan, we can ensure that individuals experiencing homelessness have access to the care and support they need year-round,” they said.

“Neighbourhood Works and the Warming Centre Working Group are ready to work collaboratively with provincial and municipal governments to develop and implement sustainable solutions for addressing homelessness in our community.”