Being homeless in any city is not a position anyone would really want to be in, especially during a pandemic. With autumn soon upon us and the winter season following, nobody should be left alone on the streets trying to survive – whether it is a situation where one finds themselves unable to afford housing or having emotional challenges, drug or alcohol addiction or just plain down and out with bad luck. In an effort to help those who are homeless, Montreal Mayor Valerie Plante, Lionel Carmant (Health and Social Services Minister) and Chantal Rouleau (Montreal Region Minister) announced emergency and residential stability sites for homeless with three shelter sites. In their statement made on Thursday August 27th at the former Royal Victoria Hospital, they said the shelters would be able to accommodate the city’s homeless people until March 31st 2021.
During the height of the pandemic, special measures were taken by the Health and Social Services Network and community partners to compensate for the closures and reduction of some community services, as well as the impact of health care in the shelters. Temporary accommodations were set up in arenas and centres, for the homeless – but with regular activities slowly resuming in those places, there will be nowhere for them to go.
Anticipating the closures of these temporary resources and the partial resumption of the activities of traditional emergency accommodation services – the Emergency Coordination Centre (EMCC) in greater Montreal and the CCSMTL have developed a transition plan (in conjunction with RAPSIM, MMFIM and the Aboriginal Health Advisory Circle in Montreal). The three accommodation sites included in the plan will provide close to 850 spaces for homeless people in Montreal. Although a location has yet to be confirmed, an additional 200 beds with high accessibility for men and women are also planned for this winter. As well, the partners involved in this initiative will continue to ensure that different needs are responded to and monitored.
What is in place in Montreal for emergency and residential stability sites for homeless and what is to come:
- At the former Royal Victoria Hospital, close to 200 places have been made available since the beginning of July. Mission Good Home and Mission Old Brewery organizations, in conjunction with the Father’s House, manage four floors for male and female accommodation, including one floor for people awaiting screening or COVID-19 test results (in partnership with the Mental Health and Addiction Program Branch of the CSMTL). One floor also houses women under the supervision of the Chain and Patricia Mackenzie Pavilion.
- Since August 19th, the Guy-Favreau Complex has close to 50 emergency beds with a high accessibility threshold for the homeless Aboriginal and Inuit population and is administered by Quebec Aboriginal Projects (QAP).
- Starting August 31st, the former YMCA Hochelaga will provide emergency accommodation with a high accessibility threshold to 65 people. Managed by CAP Saint-Barnabe and CARE Montreal, the two organizations will also offer new places at their sites, including a space dedicated to young people.
- Some traditional shelters will be increasing their capacity.
- As well, some 200 homeless people will receive personalized support and housing assistance under the Quebec Housing Corporation’s rent supplement program.
As Mayor Plante was cited as saying, “The Greater Montreal Area, the health care system and community organizations have succeeded since the beginning of the pandemic in preventing the health crisis from turning into a humanitarian crisis by quickly setting up temporary and food shelters as part of the emergency measures. By opening three new accommodation sites, Montreal and its partners are continuing their efforts to ensure that homeless people in Montreal can have a roof over their heads to sleep, eat meals and receive quality support – despite the challenges of the pandemic in the coming months.”