MONCTON – A national census will be held in New Brunswick in the new year, but not the kind of census you might think.
This will be a national census on homelessness.
The province is taking part in an attempt to get a better handle on just how many homeless people there are across the province.
Greg Bishop from the human development council will coordinate the survey in Moncton, Fredericton and Saint John.
“We are looking to count both the sheltered and unsheltered homeless population,” he said Friday.
For a single day in the new year, Bishop says volunteers will spread out across parts of New Brunswick to physically count the number of homeless people across the province. It’s part of a cross-Canada effort to conduct a one day census of the country’s homeless.
“We are interested in having anyone who we connect with complete a very short survey to give us a better understanding of their demographic and how things came to be,” Bishop said.
Moncton’s Shelley Butler says knowing how many people are in need will help people like herself, who are trying to eradicate homelessness in Moncton.
Butler says the homeless census will allow her to assess the need better. Shelley Steeves/Global News
Butler says the homeless census will allow her to assess the need better.
Shelley Steeves/Global News
“We need to know how many we need to help,” she said.
This summer, Butler took it upon herself to start feeding the homeless and what she calls the working poor every Friday without fail.
“I have a difficult time seeing these people on the street and hungry,” Butler said.
Every Friday she hands out pizza donated by Zios Pizza along with fruit, granola bars and water.
Ronnie LeBlanc was homeless in Moncton for years, he says “It’s terrible if you don’t have a place to live”
But he says it will be very difficult for the province to actually track down and counting the homeless.
“Because there is lots of people you won’t find. Most of them are loners, they want to be loners,” LeBlanc said.
But Bishop says it’s definitely something worth trying.
“Perhaps this exercise will allow us share with our friends in government the needs and we can all look at things can best be addressed,” said Bishop.
In the meantime, Butler will continue to hand out free meals on Fridays to as many people as she can, many of whom are homeless, and who she now calls dear friends.
“They are so intelligent and they have such desire to live. No matter what walks of life, no matter what journey you are on, we have to show love and empathy for these people”