The Anglican Diocese of Fredericton has taken ownership of Safe Harbour youth house in Saint John, enabling it to reopen after it closed suddenly in January.
It paid the $642,000 construction lien on the building, thereby becoming its owner.
A Letter of Intent says Partners For Youth Inc. will lease the building from the diocese and operate the facility for at-risk youth with the Province of New Brunswick as an operational funding partner.
De Stecher Appraisals Ltd. of Saint John values the facility, built on land once occupied by St. James Anglican Church on Broad Street in the city’s south end, at $1.1 million.
“In paying the lien, we buy the building,” said Bishop David Edwards. “Our reason for doing this is to enable young people in Saint John and the wider area to have a safe place to be if they become homeless.”
God’s timing was perfect, said the bishop. An unexpected bequest of $50,000 a year from the estate of George Bartlett, uncle of Dorothy Wilkes, who herself bequeathed $5.5 million to the diocese last year, led to the Safe Harbour decision.
Mr. Bartlett’s estate paid an annual income to Dorothy, his only living heir, but when she died in 2015, his will stipulated that money would be given annually to two worthy charities – a cathedral in Hawaii, where he lived, and the Anglican Diocese of Fredericton, where he was from.
“It is very interesting that the news of the bequest arrived very shortly after the news of the closure of Safe Harbour,” said Bishop David.
With the means to pay the lien, the diocese launched into five months of negotiations to come up with partnerships and funding agreements that would see the youth house not only re-open, but be adequately funded by the province to ensure its long-term viability. A formal announcement from the province is scheduled for Nov. 23.
Young people who will access the facility will be afforded much more than a bed. They will be required to access programs and services, education and/or job training.
“The whole point is to prevent chronic homelessness,” said Bishop David.
“A young person who’s homeless or on the edge of homelessness, one of their issues is, ‘How do I stabilize my life?'” the bishop told CBC news last week.
“And if they’re spending all day trying to find a place to stay at night, then there’s very little stability. So the very essence of this place is – OK, we provide a place to sleep, a place to be cared for, a place to begin to build family. And that begins to build stability.”
John Sharp, with Partners For Youth, hopes the facility will be opened again by March. It opened in March 2015, but with the lien and a lack of long-term operational funding, its future was in jeopardy and it closed almost one year ago, forcing 10 residents out.
Anglicans will be pleased to note that Safe Harbour now sports stained glass on the upper front of the building – the actual stained glass from St. James church. A window and frame had been built into the front exterior wall to hold the historic glass, but it had not been installed until now.
Called the Cody window, after Archdeacon H.A. Cody, it now looks out onto Broad Street as it has for generations.
“The Cody window has been restored to its rightful place,” said the bishop.