Support for Dartmouth homeless shelter increases, despite delayed opening
Homeless shelter is not expected to open until early February
January 28, 2019, 6:15 pm ASTLast Updated: January 29, 2019, 11:11 am
Support has been pouring in for a new emergency shelter in Dartmouth’s Sonlife Community Church.
Unfortunately, the homeless may have to endure the elements longer than anticipated, while they wait for the opening.
The shelter was scheduled to begin admitting guests on Jan. 25, with a formal opening on Feb. 1. However, the formal opening has been delayed to an indefinite date in early February.
Warren Wesson, founder of the Dartmouth Shelter Society, said despite the delay, support for the shelter has been ramping up. He’s received more than 40 inquiries about volunteering or other contributions, like cooking food or giving haircuts.
“Support has been going really, really well,” he said.
Wesson said he received one phone call from a concerned member of the community, who expressed concern over a rise in the number of homeless people in their neighbourhood.
“It’s a stereotypical vision, people saying ‘We don’t want homeless people in our neighbourhood,’ but I get why they have the concern,” said Wesson.
“But it will be different from other shelters. We’re not here to facilitate chronic homelessness and drug addiction. We want to combat and prevent chronic homelessness as a baseline of support.”
He said he’d like to meet with concerned community members and hold a community meeting to discuss shelter operations.
Steps may still be required
A spokesperson for the Halifax Regional Municipality said there are no licensing requirements for homeless shelters. However, other shelters housed in churches or community halls sometimes require a development or construction permit, depending on what accommodation work has to be done.
An HRM spokesperson said the municipality has not received any permit applications from the Dartmouth shelter, but is in the process of sending a building official to the property, who will then decide if any permits are required.