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Are temporary warming stations a new option for Montreal homeless?

MONTREAL — On extremely cold nights like Montrealers have been experiencing for the past few days, not everyone has access to a warm place to stay.

While shelters are trying to make space, not everyone wants to go in.

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One man, who used to be homeless, told Global News many of the homeless would rather spend the night out in the cold than have to abide by all the rules at shelter.

“Anywhere you go, there are rules: ‘shut up, stand in line here,'” he said.

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Convincing the homeless to stay in a shelter is a problem the Old Brewery Mission knows all too well on their nightly patrols picking up the homeless off the street.

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“They’re out there, not because they don’t know we exist,” said Matthew Pierce, the CEO and president of the mission. “They’ve decided not to come to us.”

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“We’ll coax them onto the bus, they’ll warm up, and hopefully they’ll agree with us that it’s a better option than freezing outside.”

READ MOREIn the grip of extreme cold, experts urge caution for people and pets

Now, health and social service teams at CSSS Jeanne-Mance are trying to come up with a better plan to keep homeless people safe in the winter.

They’re hoping to create temporary warming stations.

“Just to have a small space that is warm during the night, with surveillance, with policemen and social workers from our teams.”

The stations could be set up in metro stations or churches.

A step forward that Mayor Denis Coderre said the city may be willing to take to help battle the issue of homelessness in Montreal.

“It’s an on-going issue,” he said.

“If we need to do more, we’ll do more.”

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