New program to fight homelessness inside Montreal’s metro system

MONTREAL – For close to a year, 21-year-old Caitlin Murphy has spent two days a week inside the Place Des Arts metro station, speaking with and getting to know homeless people.

Close to 400 men and women she met later agreed to medical consultations and other forms of help.

The pilot project has been a huge success.

“It’s not the miracle solution to homelessness that’s for sure,” Murphy told Global News.

“But we’re able to give them services they need on the spot.”

Murphy’s work has been so successful, it’s being extended another three years.

Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre and Immigration Minister Diane DeCourcy were on hand at a news conference for the announcement.

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“The time has come for action,” Coderre told reporters.

“As mayor of Montreal, this is my priority.”

Murphy, a worker at the St-Michael’s Mission Shelter, will be getting some help: she’ll be joined by two other social workers.

The team will offer outreach services at not one but five downtown metro stations: Bonaventure, Atwater, McGill, Berri-UQAM, and Place-des-Arts.

“I do believe it will help,” says YMCA social worker Steven Cote.

“It won’t help save everybody, it won’t solve the problem, but it will address itself to the individuals who do need aid.”

Cote and another colleague will be joining Murphy in the project, who spent close to 300 hours working in the subway last year.

Every second, she says, was well worth it.

“There may not be a hundred success stories a year,” says Murphy.

“Those five success stories we do get, that’s why we do it.”