NB hires an Ontario company to address affordable housing and under-capacity lodging

A spokesman for social development said OrgCode has helped a number of shelters in the province improve their services.  (Roger Cosman/CBC - photo credit)

A spokesman for social development said OrgCode has helped a number of shelters in the province improve their services. (Roger Cosman/CBC – photo credit)

With homeless shelters in Moncton struggling to capacity and affordable housing struggling across the province, the New Brunswick government hired an Ontario-based consultant to recommend best practices.

“OrgCode is a global leader in reducing and ending homelessness,” and the government appreciates their help, social development spokesperson Rebecca Howland said in a written statement to CBC News.

It has helped a number of shelters in the province improve their services, she said.

It also consulted for the Tiger Team working group formed last fall to analyze the homelessness situation in Moncton, which consisted of representatives from Social Development, Health, Justice and Public Safety and the Executive Council Office.

OrgCode has now been commissioned by the department this year to provide “consultancy services, technical expertise, strategic work input and training as needed,” she wrote.

It “is paid on an hourly basis as needed.”

“It’s not like we need every shelter to offer exactly the same services. Rather, we must leverage the strengths of each shelter for each person’s uniqueness,” said Iain De Jong, President and CEO of OrgCode.

Delivered by Iain De Jong

Delivered by Iain De Jong

In recent months, there has not been enough space for shelter in the Moncton area and there has been disagreement over the actual number of people affected by homelessness, as well as the need for “wet shelter” for people with drug problems.

There were also reports of people being denied access to emergency shelters.

One thing that could help, De Jong said, is some sort of forum for better collaboration between all service providers — “whether it’s social development or some other backbone organization that can bring shelters together.”

Everyone can benefit from a group discussion about what is being and isn’t being done, who is doing what and what the strengths of different organizations are, he said – “instead of pointing fingers at deficits”.

If everyone involved had a way to work together, De Jong said, they could better help people affected by homelessness navigate the system and access the most appropriate resources. He included hospitals and prisons in this network.

“Social development is now taking the lead when it comes to bringing organizations together,” said Zineb Elouad, executive director of the House of Nazareth.

It operates the largest animal shelter in New Brunswick and has had some organizational problems after a major expansion a few years ago.

“We are seeing positive changes and improvements,” said Elouad.

The House of Nazareth Board of Directors also discontinued OrgCode in May 2022, she confirmed.

With OrgCode’s help, House of Nazareth has implemented a “housing-centric” approach and improved its housing system by adopting best practices, she wrote in an email response to some of the suggestions De Jong mentioned to CBC News.

He also recommends looking for better data to identify the causes of homelessness and reduce the number of homeless people.

The reasons people become homeless repeatedly or for long periods are unique to each individual, he said.

Accurate, up-to-date information about each individual is key to identifying what resources are needed for specific age groups, genders, or cultural groups.

Frontline workers may be very busy “putting out fires,” he said, but taking the time to regularly collect data and enter it into the National Information System for Homeless People and Families will make their job easier.

Elouad fully supports this idea, as does De Jong’s other advice.

Alexandre Silberman/CBC

Alexandre Silberman/CBC

“House of Nazareth has always taken an approach that includes data collection, transparency, communication and collaboration with other stakeholders,” she wrote.

The House of Nazareth has gone through a period of renewal, De Jong said, and the leadership has made great strides.

Their emphasis on housing, case management and meeting people where they are stand out as achievements, he said.

He said they have been able to reach people who did not previously have intensive support and have been able to place some people in long-term housing.

There is still room for improvement, he said, but he commended the shelter staff for their commitment to continuous improvement.

There have been complaints from downtown Moncton residents and businesses about the behavior of some people affected by homelessness.

Shelters often undeservedly get the heat for off-property behaviors, De Jong said, but if homelessness is reduced, that will be less of an issue.

He said shelters should focus on creating a safe space inside so people are more likely to go there and not feel the need to go.

They also need to improve access to housing.

Every time shelters and subsidies were increased, there should also be an increase in rent supplements, new construction and housing unit purchases.

“If not, people will get bottlenecks again.”

Different types of accommodation are needed, including rented rooms and prices based on income.

It’s a worthwhile investment, De Jong said.

“It’s more expensive to keep someone homeless than to house and support them,” he said.

“That has been proven again and again.”


Show More

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button