St. Stephen, N.B. opens warming shelter just days after state of emergency declared – New Brunswick |

A group in St. Stephen, N.B., has officially launched a 24-hour warming centre just days after the municipality declared a local state of emergency due to the nearly 100 people experiencing homelessness.

The province’s public safety minister terminated the state of emergency two days later, saying it was an inappropriate use of the declaration.

Neighbourhood Works Inc. (NWI) launched the shelter space on Union Street and is set to open Dec. 8 at 7 p.m.

“The newly-established drop-in centre offers refuge from the cold, along with warm beverages and access to food,” a media release from the organization reads.

Click to play video: 'N.B. town declares state of local emergency over homelessness'

N.B. town declares state of local emergency over homelessness

The centre won’t provide sleeping accommodation due to regulatory issues, the release continued, but it hopes to shield those living outdoors from the harsh winter conditions and provide a bit of respite and necessary amenities.

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The opening comes almost a week after the death of one of the members of the community living outside.

The town has been unable to secure a location for a temporary permanent shelter, mayor Allan MacEachern said.

Housing Minister Jill Green said earlier this week that 20 properties had been explored as options, but none were deemed suitable, mainly to not-in-my-back-yard attitudes.

On Thursday, MacEachern told Global News work continues to secure both a temporary shelter and more permanent one down the road.

NWI said the opening of its shelter  is a joint effort between governments, community organizations, non-profits, and dedicated volunteers, all with the goal of helping those experiencing homelessness.

Outreach workers will be available on-site to help those using the centre.

“NWI invites community members, volunteers, and organizations to join us in supporting this vital initiative,” the release said. “The success of this endeavor hinges on the collective effort & contributions from compassionate individuals and groups dedicated to aiding the homeless.”

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