Solutions and setbacks in providing shelter to Montreal’s homeless

Shelters in Montreal argue permanent housing is the solution

For people experiencing homelessness in Montreal, the pandemic has made staying healthy and getting back on one’s feet an even greater challenge.

According to Mayor Valérie Plante, the number of homeless people in Montreal has doubled since the first outbreaks of COVID-19. Hundreds of people had set up camp by Notre-Dame St., and many were reinforcing their tents to withstand the winter. However, city authorities evicted the people living in the encampment in December.

The pandemic has made it more difficult for non-profit organizations like the Old Brewery Mission and the Welcome Hall Mission to provide emergency services to the city’s homeless. The Old Brewery, for example, had to reduce its shelter capacity by 40 per cent and enforced new safety measures in their facilities. 

However, although these organizations are responding by providing warming stations and managing newly-opened facilities, both James Hughes, President & CEO of Old Brewery Mission, and Samuel Watts, CEO/Executive Director of Welcome Hall Mission, believe that more long-term solutions are needed.