News / Halifax

A safe Night's Rest: Halifax shelter campaign focuses on keeping the lights on, one stay at a time

Shelter Nova Scotia aims to tackle immediate needs first before addressing long-term goals like improving the Turning Point kitchen.

Linda Wilson, executive director of Shelter Nova Scotia, poses for a photo outside Metro Turning Point Centre on Thursday, Nov. 9, 2017.

Zane Woodford/Metro

Linda Wilson, executive director of Shelter Nova Scotia, poses for a photo outside Metro Turning Point Centre on Thursday, Nov. 9, 2017.

A Halifax men’s homeless shelter is left focusing on keeping their doors open after aiming to get funding for a kitchen upgrade.

Metro Turning Point, a men’s shelter located on Barrington Street in Halifax, is Atlantic Canada’s largest men’s shelter with 78 beds. Run by Shelter Nova Scotia, funding comes from the province through the department of community services, but fundraising is essential.

“We’re fundraising about $150,000 or $160,00 a year to help pay the light bill, the telephone bill, kind of the operational costs,” said Linda Wilson, executive director of Shelter Nova Scotia in an interview.

“And that’s just to keep it going day to day. In the long term, we would like to enhance the service that we provide.”

Increased supports are especially important for men’s shelters where the staff-to-client ratio is one to 20, compared to one to 10 at their women’s shelter, according to Wilson.

The shelter participated in the Aviva community fund contest in October – a national program - hoping to get money to upgrade its kitchen. The kitchen currently has the same size stove of an average household, creating a challenge when it comes to cooking for an average of 65 to 71 men year-round. While the project wasn’t announced as a finalist last week, it received 16,000 votes.

"We know homelessness is going to continue forever, it's a worldwide phenomenon that's just not ending. But we believe that it can be experienced in a more dignified way and for a shorter period of time,” said Wilson.

The shelter would like to eventually provide three meals a day. Right now, government funding covers one snack, although they’re able to use other funds to actually offer one full meal.

Now, the fundraising focus has to shift from the long-term kitchen goal to a more immediate goal of operational costs through the “Night’s Rest” campaign.

It looks to raise donations in $35.50 increments, which is the cost to cover one person for a night at the shelter and give a full meal.

The amount of funding hasn’t increased since 2008, although Shelter Nova Scotia is currently negotiating with the provincial government.

"We're not going to give up on trying to get a kitchen, but our focus has gone back to trying to fundraise just to keep the doors open for tonight and try to get food for tonight.”

How to help: Financial donations to a Night’s Rest can be made at shelternovascotia.com

Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that the staff-to-client ratio at men’s shelters is one to 10, compared to one to 20 at women’s shelters. In fact, the staff-to-client ratio at men’s shelters is one to 20, compared to one to 10 at women’s shelters. Metro regrets the error.

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