The foundation of the building that houses the Chez Doris women’s shelter in Montreal looks more like a sandbox than stone.
Pieces of old cement sprinkle down onto the floor and there’s a hole big enough to fit an entire hand in.
“The cement holding together all the stones is fragmented and falling apart. It’s like sand, which will destabilize the building,” said executive director Marina Boulos, as she swept away some dust.
The building, at 1430 Chomedey St. in Montreal’s Shaughnessy Village, was built in 1900.
This could be the shelter’s last winter.
“We were told not to wait another winter,” said Boulos.
“If we don’t raise the money, April will be fine but that is the limit.”
The shelter is now scrambling to raise the money to replace the wall and foundation.
With a $475,000 price tag, it might force the shelter to take drastic measures.
“Come hell or high water, we’re going to have to go into debt,” said Boulous.
Cracks are not only destabilizing the building’s foundation, but also allowing water and snow to get through, causing mold to appear on the walls.
Boulos worries the shelter won’t be able to find a good home if it is forced to move.
Around 100 women use Chez Doris on a daily basis.
They don’t want to move because it’s in the western downtown core and near the Metro.
“It’s home. I treat it as my home. The girls, I treat them as my sisters,” said Diane Gagné, who stays at the shelter.
So far, Chez Doris has managed to raise $150,000 for repairs.