Homelessness/Poverty

    1. Is the City of Moncton responsible for the issues related to homelessness?

    No. Affordable and social housing subsidies and ‘wrap-around’ services, such as mental health and addiction support are funded through taxes collected by the Province of New Brunswick.  The provincial Department of Social Development is responsible for the delivery and management of these services.

    So, the City of Moncton does not have direct responsibility or jurisdiction over social services related to homelessness within our community; however, we have been working very diligently to address the situation, by allocating funds, services and significant staff time. In addition, the City provides annual grants to various social service agencies working on poverty-reduction initiatives in our community (2019 budgeted amount of grants totals $468,000).

Rules/Regulations

    2. Why has the City allowed people to camp on public property?

    There are two elements to consider:

    §  The City has been allowing the delivery of basic human services at the Albert Street ‘tent city’; this location and its current set-up is tolerated by the City of Moncton due to a lack of housing options following the closure of the Assomption Boulevard emergency ‘out-of-the-cold’ shelter on April 1, 2019. This is when the Albert Street tent city was progressively established by some members of the homeless community. When there is no other option available to the homeless population (i.e. lack of shelter beds and affordable housing), the City must be empathic to the very difficult situation for these vulnerable residents, and support local social service agencies as feasible.

    §  Definition of ‘public property’: There is a distinction between City-owned land (treated the same as private land would be), and public land (reserved for the use of residents). This means that the property on Albert Street is not considered ‘public’.

    The Recreation Areas by-law (H-302) outlines prohibited activities in our community parks, playgrounds, green spaces, trails, etc.:

    ·  3(1) No person shall pitch a tent or park a trailer or mobile home overnight in a recreation area without first having obtained the approval of the General Manager of Recreation, or designate.

    ·  3(2) Subject to the hours of operation of the recreation area, no person shall remain in a recreation area between 10:00 p.m. on one day and one hour before sunrise on the following day without the permission of the General Manager of Recreation or a designate.

    3. Why does the City not enforce its by-laws?

    Across Canada, municipal governments experiencing the presence of tent cities have learned that writing by-law infraction tickets to homeless individuals is not an effective way to stop encampments.  By-law enforcement options include issuing a fine or seeking an order to stop certain behaviours. 

    Typically, as people who are homeless do not have the means to pay fines and when they have no clear alternative housing options, courts are reluctant to impose penalties or force them to move.  The City’s approach has therefore been to support the work of the social agencies.

Tent Cities

    4. What is the City doing about the ‘tent city’?

    For the past year, City representatives have been advocating to the NB Department of Social Development to find immediate and long-term solutions to the lack of affordable housing in Moncton. Through its Greater Moncton Homelessness Steering Committee, the City has also been working closely with support organizations such as the YMCA ReConnect Street Intervention Program, the Salvus Clinic and others to meet the basic needs of tenters (and others living in homelessness). For example, the City has provided security and enforced controlled access to the site for the protection of those living at the site, a portable toilet was placed at the site by one of the agencies, drinking water is distributed regularly, and garbage is collected by a social enterprise.

    In April 2019, the House of Nazareth, assisted by the Governments of Canada and New Brunswick, purchased a property at 75 Albert Street to open a permanent shelter that will reportedly open as soon as possible.

    Overall, this issue is very complex. The lack of affordable and rent-subsidized housing options in Greater Moncton means that it is difficult for shelter residents to transition to more permanent accommodations. The City’s Affordable Housing Plan is available online.

    5. How long will known tent city locations be tolerated?

    With the harsh winter weather on its way, the City and community partners are helping to transition people from a tent city environment, in an orderly and respectful way, taking into consideration the needs of area residents/businesses and, primarily, of those living at the site.  Once they have moved on, the City will discourage future encampments.

    6. How will the City prevent future tent cities from popping up?

    Moncton is experiencing low vacancy rates and rising costs for rental homes as a result of factors mainly outside of the municipality’s control, which can create the conditions of tenting sites ‘popping up’. After having completed a ‘housing needs study’, the City is eager to explore approaches that fit well in our community, therefore is now developing an affordable housing policy, and is working with government and social agencies to increase the availability of a range of housing options for middle and low-income earners.

    http://www5.moncton.ca/docs/Housing_Needs_Assessment.pdf

    http://www5.moncton.ca/docs/fact_sheet_housing.pdf

Funding / Taxes

    7. How much has the City spent on the Albert Street ‘tent city’ and why?

    The City had been providing security, lighting, water and garbage collection (a social enterprise partnership with the John Howard Society) at the Albert Street site.  These services ensure safety for the site’s residents and the public in general, as well as meet basic human needs.

    Since June 2019, the City invested close to $35,000/month for these services. The City is also incurring staffing costs related to By-law enforcement, Parks maintenance and City equipment costs.

    Again, the NB Department of Social Development has the responsibility to provide temporary and long-term housing.

    8. How much has the City spent on dealing with situations linked to homelessness?

    The City had invested $150,000 since the fall of 2018, and adds to that total approximately $140,000 (June to September 2019) specifically for the additional basic human services provided at the Albert Street site. These figures do not include staffing or equipment costs.

    These figures do not include the grants allocated in the 2019 budget to various non-profit organizations, which total $468,000.

    Again, the NB Department of Social Development has the responsibility to provide temporary and long-term housing.

    9. Will my taxes go up because of tent city?

    So far, the City has absorbed the costs of tent city through budget reallocations (meaning that funds were moved away from other projects to deal with this situation). 

    Health, social services, and housing costs are the responsibility of the Governments of Canada and New Brunswick; as such, the City will be submitting requests for reimbursement for the expenses incurred related to these extraordinary circumstances.

Helpful Resources

    10. What can I do to help people living in homelessness in Moncton?

    Social service agencies in Moncton welcome your donations and have the experience and awareness to ensure your contributions are distributed fairly and effectively. There are many service agencies that support those living in such conditions, including:

    ·  YMCA ReConnect Street Intervention Program,

    ·  Salvus Clinic,

    ·  Food Depot Alimentaire

    ·  Karing Kitchen, Salvation Army, Humanity Project (meals),

    ·  House of Nazareth,

    ·  Habitat for Humanity,

    ·  Harvest House,

    ·  Ensemble Greater-Grand Moncton Inc.

    Recognizing the humanity of people experiencing homelessness is important and helps combat the stigma of poverty, mental illness and addiction.  You can demonstrate your awareness and compassion in many ways, including volunteering your time at a local service agency, communicating respectfully when there is misunderstanding, providing facts on the topic from reliable sources within your social, business and professional networks, and staying informed.

    11. What do I do if I see a person in distress or suspicious activity?

    Public safety for all residents is the top priority.

    If you see someone in distress, who could be a danger to themselves or others, call 9-1-1. Remain calm.

    ·  For your own safety, if possible, do not approach them if you do not have appropriate training for mental health or addiction disorders.

    ·  Should you need to speak to the person in distress, use a calm and reassuring tone of voice, explaining that you’re getting help. If the person is able to answer, ask them if there’s anything they can share about their condition, and relay this information to the 9-1-1 telecommunications operator. They will in turn prepare the paramedics for the situation.

    If you see something suspicious, dial 9-1-1, or if there isn’t any imminent danger, call the Codiac RCMP non-emergency line at (506) 857-2400.

    12. What do I do if I find a needle or ‘sharp’?

    The City has partnered with a local volunteer group called ‘Needle Awareness’, who are fully trained in how to properly dispose of discarded needles. Using the Facebook Messenger tool/app, citizens can send the ‘Needle Awareness’ group a request to pick-up, by clearly identifying the address and location (including a photo would be very helpful too): https://www.facebook.com/Needle-Awareness-2127524017286688/.

    If you do not have access to the Messenger app, you can call the City’s 24/7 Dispatch service (506-859-2643) to advise of the needle location, and the information will be forwarded to this community organization.

Contact Information