James Benjamin Roberts Dead, Homeless Man Found Frozen In Prince Albert

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Homeless man found frozen to death behind store in Prince Albert. | Shutterstock

PRINCE ALBERT, Sask. - Social agencies say the freezing death of a man highlights the issue of homelessness in the northern Saskatchewan city of Prince Albert.

James Benjamin Roberts, who was 49, was found behind a Michaels store in a retail district on Tuesday.

People who knew Roberts, also known as Ben Dahl, say he had no place to call his own.

Edna Bruce, manager of the YWCA's Our House, says services for the homeless are barely skimming the surface of what is needed.

She said many people with no where to go hang out in the warm doorways of stores until they're told to leave.

Bruce says shelters can be so overrun that many people coming in for a bed are sleeping in the lobbies at night.

"It just makes your heart tighten up, because you see these people every day and it could be anyone next," said Bruce. "We have a folder of the people who have died since we've been here, which is five years, and there's about 20 people who have died for various reasons."

Bruce said Roberts had stayed with the YWCA a couple of times when the shelter first opened, but never requested to stay again.

"He came here and had coffee, warmed up, sat in our lobby and visited with people."

A shelter user named Stephanie said she remembered Roberts coming in after a night outside.

"I didn't know him that well, but I did know him when he was coming in here," she said. "When he came in here his face was just frozen in the mornings."

She said Roberts had been staying out every night, more than likely behind a building in an attempt to get out of the wind.

An autopsy is to verify the cause of death, but police do not suspect foul play.

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