Fredericton Homeless Shelters (Spring Grant 2018)

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The Fredericton Homeless Shelters, Inc. believes that every person is entitled to a safe place to call home. Since 1983, the organization has been working to help individuals experiencing homelessness by providing safe and stable housing. The organization aims to promote self-determination and restore dignity to the residents in their three spaces: St. John House, Grace House for Women, and Brunswick Home Transitional Housing. By providing a 360-degree, 23-hour support model, the Fredericton Homeless Shelters, Inc. is making an incredible difference in the lives of hundreds of individuals each year.

THE FREDERICTON HOMELESS SHELTERS, INC.

For over 30 years, The Fredericton Homeless Shelters, Inc. has been striving to fulfill their vision of providing an open, compassionate, and dignified shelter for the Fredericton community. In 1983, a group of Fredericton residents with the common goal of providing temporary housing – primarily for those who had suffered house fires or natural disasters – came together, establishing The Fredericton Homeless Shelters Inc. and The Men’s Shelter in the downtown. Since that time, the organization has evolved to serve a variety of people within a diverse range of backgrounds, ages, cultures, abilities, genders, sexual orientations, and experiences. Providing temporary housing for over 400 individuals each year, the organization’s three spaces are each able to serve a different group of people while maintaining common values and an atmosphere of compassion, open-mindedness, dependability, accountability, and hopefulness.

Warren Maddox, Executive Director of the organization, has now been working at The Shelters for close to seven years. He described that homelessness in Fredericton takes many forms and is comprised of various situations and realities, with two thirds of the homeless population struggling with mental health and addictions. “Addictions-wise, we’re dealing with methamphetamines, amphetamines, or opiates,” explained Maddox, emphasizing the critical importance of assisting drug addicts onto a path of harm reduction. “In terms of resources,” he elaborated, “Mental Health and Addictions, as well as Detox play a huge role, [along with] the Downtown Health Clinic. There are some really good pharmacists around town that are active in the methadone program.” In terms how long an individual can have temporary housing at the Shelters, there is no set timeline. Maddox stated that the objective is for a resident to be stabilized and turned over and into permanent housing after 90 days; however, this can be modified based on someone’s specific needs and situation. “Our average is running at about 60 days,” he described. “When I came in, there were guys that had been here for 3-4 years, so we’re doing fairly well.”

In order to provide the most comprehensive and useful support possible to their residents, the staff at the Fredericton Homeless Shelters implements a 23-hour, 360 degree, holistic transitional planning model at their three spaces. Maddox provided some detail into this approach: “360 degree support is basically helping someone in every way that they need in order to get them stabilized and looking outward. That includes medication support, getting them working with social assistance, [and] getting their Medicare up to date.” He explained that approximately 20% of individuals who arrive at the Shelters have no IDs or money and are often dirty, tired, and sometimes very physically or mentally ill; this reality makes the provision of 360 degree support absolutely vital to the wellbeing of all residents of the organization.  

Maddox was enthusiastic in describing the amazing work and effort that is put in on a daily basis by the staff at the Shelters, as well as his gratitude for those individuals who make up their team. “For me, as the overall manager, the most rewarding part [of working at the Shelters] is seeing 19 people being so dedicated to compassion and being kind, decent people,” he explained. “They’re remarkable men and women.”

THEIR SPACES

Formerly known as The Men’s Shelter, St. John House was the first shelter established by the organization; the space is able to house 25 men and is located within walking distance of various downtown resources, including The Community Kitchen and Victoria Health Centre. Staffed 23 hours per day by a team of dedicated individuals, St. John House provides its residents with a safe space to stay while they work to transition into permanent housing. The space offers 360-degree support and provides access to laundry, shower facilities, telephones, laptops, Wi-Fi, and – most importantly – a permanent mailing address. Maddox elaborated on the wide range of services that staff at The Shelters assist with daily: “The support that we provide to our residents is critical. From medication support to helping with legal documents, helping them with their taxes, helping them to get and pay for IDs, connecting with Medicare, doing referrals to mental health – [we provide] all of that kind of support that they’re not getting.”

Grace House for Women, located at 275 Brunswick Street, provides a comforting, safe, and supportive environment for up to ten women at a time. Established in 2001, the brightly colored home serves as an accepting space that is kept, run, and maintained by women, for women. The experienced staff at Grace House are understanding of the specific challenges that women face and are available to residents 23 hours a day. Residents also receive access to laundry, showers, a resource library, computers, a full kitchen, Wi-Fi, and phones. According to Maddox, approximately 80% of the women at Grace House have experienced or are experiencing abuse. “On average, we’re saving about four young women from being trafficked a year,” he elaborated. “Getting women away from that is really important.”

In addition to the housing provided at St. John House and Grace House, the Fredericton Homeless Shelters is able to provide a transitional living space for up to 4 current shelter residents. At Brunswick Home Transitional House, residents who are stable enough to begin transitioning into the next phase of their independence are able to live in and take care of a space that they can call their own. While these residents still have access to the various resources and staff that the Shelters provide, they have the experience of living in their own room, sharing common areas with one another, and holding the responsibility of maintaining a home. A small monthly service fee is charged in order to teach the importance of personal budgeting while also allowing residents to save up for future financial goals and housing. As stated on the organization’s website, this type of independent environment is invaluable in allowing individuals to restore their self-determination and confidence in their own skills and abilities.

OUR CONTRIBUTION

It is through community support that the Fredericton Homeless Shelters are able to survive and continue the impactful work that they do. Maddox explained that there are common misconceptions about how the Shelters are funded, and stated that community donations and grants are vital. “Funding is absolutely critical,” he stated. “People have the misconception that the government completely funds us, when they don’t – 18% of our budget is from the province, but that’s it. I have to go out into the community and raise the other $600,000 every year.”

This year, the Fredericton Homeless Shelters received funding during both of the Fredericton Community Foundation's yearly granting sessions, receiving a total of $9,000 for operational costs. Maddox emphasized: “If you want to have an impact on society in Fredericton and you want it to be a significant one, support the Community Foundation in doing amazing work, or directly support The Fredericton Homeless Shelters.”

GET INVOLVED

- Financial donations are absolutely crucial in order for The Fredericton Homeless Shelters to continue providing safe housing and services to individuals experiencing homelessness. Donations can be made by clicking the following link: https://www.canadahelps.org/en/dn/7369, or by selecting the ‘Act Now’ button on the organization’s website. 

- To learn more about the incredible work that this organization is doing in the community, you can find their website at: http://www.theshelters.ca/

Lauren Sieben