FREDERICTON (GNB) – The Department of Social Development has committed $1.4 million towards the John Howard Society’s development of a housing project in Fredericton for homeless people.

“We are pleased to see such a project being developed in the Fredericton region by the John Howard Society,” said Social Development Minister Bruce Fitch. “Homelessness is a complex issue that requires the participation of all three levels of government, community partners and the public. While we are disappointed that the project was not chosen for funding through the federal Rapid Housing initiative, we are still committed to our investment in this project.

“We are confident that it will help homeless people in Fredericton by offering transitional housing units, peer-supported units and an emergency homeless shelter,” he said. “We are hopeful that the City of Fredericton will also invest and be an equal partner in this very important initiative.”

The project involves the conversion of the existing City Motel into apartments for homeless people. It is expected to offer 20 bachelor-style apartments, 12 peer-supported housing units, a 24-bed homeless shelter, meeting rooms, a restaurant, and clinical and outreach offices. The project would be the largest of its kind in the area and is expected to make a significant impact in meeting the needs of the homeless.

Plans also involve moving the Marshal House Shelter, situated at 332 Brunswick St. (formerly known as the OOTC) into a section of the motel and to create additional affordable housing at the Brunswick Street site.

“We believe in this project and will continue to work with the John Howard Society to help the homeless population in Fredericton,” said Fitch. “Along with many partners, including the River Stone Recovery Centre, the Phoenix Learning Centre, and the Fredericton Downtown Community Health Centre, we are monitoring the needs of this vulnerable population.”

The department’s community outreach teams work throughout the province to help people who are sleeping rough gain access to shelters and other resources.

Fitch said regional and central office staff have been working in collaboration with other government departments and stakeholders to develop long-term solutions to address this situation.

“Thanks to multiple efforts, over the last two years, more than 500 at-risk homeless individuals have accessed and maintained affordable and stable housing in the province,” he said.

The department offers housing assistance to applicants who demonstrate the greatest need. Priorities are determined based on such things as household income, current housing situations, whether or not existing accommodations pose a threat to the health and safety of the occupants, requirements for accessible accommodations, medical conditions, as well as the number of dependents.