AJOI (Action Jeunesse de l’Ouest-de-l’île) has been working tirelessly for many years to help young adults ages 18 to 35 in need of assistance in the West Island area – and they have been unwavering in their goal to open a homeless shelter. Although many issues still need to be addressed involving the plight of those who are homeless – their mission to open a shelter is finally coming to fruition. This December, the West Island’s first-ever homeless shelter is scheduled to open for the winter.
It may come as a surprise to some people, that even though the West Island is considered to have advantageous living conditions, the area hides a reality where an estimated 18% of young people up to 34 years old are living in areas of social and material deprivation – according to Tania Charron (Executive Director of AJOI) when I spoke with her in early 2019. They live in the shadows of our society and are often unseen.
“People have suggested these young adults should simply be taken to shelters in downtown Montreal, but the growing number of young people from the West Island don’t want to be taken there,” Tania had explained. “They are afraid and do not want to be uprooted from the area they have always lived in and known and so refuse to go. They end up sleeping in cars or couch surfing at the homes of friends until exhausting all of their options and then waiting and hoping an outreach worker manages to find them a temporary room for the night. Many of these young adults want a better life for themselves, they don’t want to be living on the streets or sleeping in conditions that put them further at risk… how can they go to school or hold down a job when they do not know where they are going to sleep and if they are going to eat?” That statement is still relative today – and with the ongoing pandemic, the challenges are now even greater.
To run the shelter for the winter, the City of Montreal and the CIUSSS de l’Ouest-de-l’Île-de-Montréal has granted $200,000 to AJOI. Although the exact location has yet to be determined, they are looking at potential sites in the Pierrefonds and Lachine areas. Outreach workers will be at the shelters – offering hot coffee, food, drinks, use of a shower, a place to rest and support. A shuttle service will also be available. The shelter will be able to accommodate between 10 to 15 people at night – operating seven days a week from 11:00pm to 7:00am and open until March 31st 2021.
For more information about their services or to make a donation, you can contact them at 514-675-4450 or by email at email@example.com