A new 20-bed men’s shelter in downtown Dartmouth is expected to open in a church hall next month.
The shelter will be hosted by Christ Church on Dundas Street and run by 902 Man Up, a not for profit organization.
The rector of Christ Church, Kyle Wagner, said the provincial government approached the church with the proposal to make the space available.
“For the longest while there didn’t seem to be a need for a shelter in Dartmouth but it’s come to our understanding from the province that a lot of people who are unhoused are not just from Halifax,” he said.
Wagner said the shelter is expected to open by Dec. 5. It will be open to men to pass their evening and sleep overnight. The beneficiaries are clients of 902 Man Up and it is not a walk-in service.
Wagner said neighbours of the site raised concerns at a community meeting on Sunday. He said the partners revised the plan to ensure greater security.
“We want to work with our neighbours to make this a success, and I think we heard their concerns,” Wagner said.
Greg Leger lives in the neighbourhood. He described the proposal to house the homeless as thoughtful.
“If this church and these parishioners are willing to … house some homeless people in that hall, I think that’s a darn good idea,” he said.
A statement by the province’s Community Services Department said that concerns raised by the community at Sunday’s meeting mean the shelter will now have perimeter security for the safety of residents and guests, closing hours will be set to meet the needs of the community members and the shelter will provide contact information for community members to provide supports or have concerns addressed.
Marcus James, president and co-founder of 902 Man Up, expressed delight at the partnership.
“902 Man Up is pleased to partner with the province on another overnight shelter. 902 Man Up is a grassroots organization that supports diverse vulnerable communities, and we remain focused on providing help to Nova Scotians, making sure they have access to support and services they can trust feel connected to,” he said in a release from the province.
James’ organization also manages a shelter on North Park Street in Halifax with up to 40 beds.
The Affordable Housing Association of Nova Scotia said there are about 690 people without homes in the municipality.
Wagner described the shelter as a Band-Aid solution.
“ I think there’s a sense at all levels of society that there’s a problem and it’s systemic and that the system needs to change. I think not only should the church or non-profits provide something like this as a community but the goal is ultimately that we do not have to have this,” he said.