Homeless Shelter

Dartmouth’s new homeless shelter to welcome first guests

Formal opening scheduled for Feb. 1

Dartmouth’s homeless population will no longer have to sleep out in the cold, thanks to a new emergency shelter.

The shelter — located in Sonlife Community Church’s gymnasium — will provide year-round emergency accommodation. It will have 15 beds, positioned in a dorm style arrangement, and will take in men, women and children. Beds will be stored away during the day and brought back in at night.

Although the church is providing the space, the shelter will be run by a newly formed non-profit group, the Dartmouth Shelter Society. The group was founded by Warren Wesson.

Wesson, a former drug addict, has used emergency shelters in the past. He said providing support to the homeless in his own community is a “lifelong dream.”

“I’m making my own bed. I’ve needed this system twice in my life,” said Wesson, who has been clean for 10 years. “I’m not the only one in the world who wants to be clean, or to have a place to stay … that’s why we’re here.”

Wesson said the Dartmouth shelter will provide short-term housing and food and also connect guests to a range of services, including help for addiction, mental health and food insecurity.

“I have friends who have been discharged from hospital and sent to an overnight shelter and their conditions got worse. Poorly functioning beds, lack of supervision, being in the same room with people who still need full-time addiction treatment … we aren’t just offering beds,” said Wesson.

“We are going to be offering a complete set of services for recovery.”

Two reports, conducted in August and April 2018, on housing insecurity confirm the need for more shelter beds in the municipality.

The April report from the Affordable Housing Association of Nova Scotia, found 204 emergency shelter beds were available for a homeless population of 220 in Halifax. Eighteen homeless people were unsheltered and five were in police cells.

The August report, from the same group, determined seven people were homeless in Dartmouth. At the time of the report, Dartmouth had no emergency shelter beds.

Sonlife pastor Chuck Kelades is proud to be providing the space to those in need.

“Homelessness in Dartmouth has been a concern for all of us here at the church,” he said. “We want to make a positive impact and to reach out and engage with our local community. This is how we can connect and make a difference.”

The gymnasium will operate as a shelter at Sonlife Community Church.   Mario Terzoli

Kevin Hooper, manager of partnership and community development at Halifax’s United Way, said although the shelter is a step in the right direction, affordable housing is a more sustainable solution to homelessness throughout the Halifax Regional Municipality.

“There are issues of homelessness and hidden homeless all over HRM, and Dartmouth is no exception. It’s great to see community members coming together to work on solutions,” said Hooper. “Although shelters are helpful for putting a roof over people’s heads, we need to create more safe, appropriate and affordable housing solutions which creates a healthier community for all.”

The shelter is located at 152 Windmill Rd., Dartmouth. Guests will be accepted beginning Friday, Jan. 25, but the formal opening is scheduled for Feb. 1.

42 comments

  1. I have been looking for something to donate some free time to and this seems like something I would love to do. Kitchen duties would maybe be best. Please contact me if I can help
    Wishing you all the best. This is awesome!!

  2. If u want volunteers to cook and donate I would very much like to help. This is wonderful news and J love to cook.

  3. Beautiful to learn. Those of us that have worked in the system and know the cycle (s) of addiction know that our society is on the brink of a major disaster. Our country is short of beds in shelters, housing first is not for all addicts and soon to compound the situation is the death of parents that provide food and shelter for adult addicts. As well, Canada has also witnessed an increase in youth and seniors accessing shelters… 1/6 Canadians have substance abuse disorders. Do the math…

  4. Would really like to help in some way. Please reach out. It would be the greatest gift to ge able to help someone in need

  5. I am so over the moon with this. I hope other parts of Nova Scotia will be inspired and start implementing these shelters in their area, and by doing so offering a chance to change ones life as well. Bless be.

  6. *Opening is NOT February 01.

    I am floored by the outpouring of support here. What an honor it is to serve my communities health and safety needs . We are a great team and we know we need everyone’s input. We know few who not been touched by these complex issues in some way.

    Please do drop me a line at warrenwesson@hotmail.com and we will get organized with our volunteer list.

    *Opening is NOT February 01.
    Opening is when we are ready. Not before. We have to get this right. We know people are counting on us.

    Thank you so very very much.

    Sincerely, Warren Wesson

  7. Thisxis fantastic!! We def need more homeless shelters in the Halifax/Dartmouth/Bedford/Sackville area. This is so important so thank you so much for doing this! I will start gathering supplies to donate. I would also like to volunteer. Who do I contact about volunteering there? Thanks so much again, a great cause indeed.

  8. I an a barber i would like to help and maybe 1 a month on a sun i can offer a free cut or im off after 12 on fridays i would love to help

  9. This is absolutely amazing! I found myself homeless in Dartmouth/Halifax in the summer leading into the winter of 2018. No matter how many shelters I went to, every single one had no beds available. I don’t know how many times I’ve been woken up by police for sleeping on sidewalks, or woke up by the rain, snow, & freezing cold weather. I ended up in the hospital and upon discharge, I still couldn’t find accommodations for myself so thankfully, my grandmother brought me in. I am 24 years old, and also a recovering addict. It brought years to my eyes reading this. I guess there really are still good people in this world. Bless you all.

  10. I would love to be a part of this. I have been in recovery for 30years.I have a Son who has had a trouble life.And I know I have an open heart & Mind I have been a Christian for 8years and I ave a lot to offer.I’ve Been a widow for 8 years now.I feel I have alot to give. God bless you for doing this for the homeless.

  11. Such an amazing project. Warren, you are a great person for helping others in our hometown. You are an inspiration for others to get involved, and for addicts to get clean. Keep up the good work my friend.

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