Drummers led the way through downtown Montreal for the 29th Night of the Homeless.
The event is a chance for advocates and their supporters to raise awareness about what those without a place to live face.
This year, the event takes on a different meaning for advocates, with a new provincial government in place in Quebec City. For 40 years, they worked with either Liberal or Parti Québécois governments, but with the CAQ’s win and that party’s promise of tax cuts, there’s a new reality to navigate.
“I’m all for a robust economy, but the reality is that there are so many people below the poverty line and they need support and rehabilitation for them to be contributing members of society,” said Marina Boulos-Winton, executive director of Chez Doris.
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Boulos-Winton is calling for more emergency and transitional shelters for women, who make up 25 per cent of the homeless population, but have access to approximately 10 per cent of the spaces — a situation that contributes to what advocates call “hidden homelessness.”
“There are a lot of women who don’t like to admit they are homeless and that they have no permanent address, so they couch surf, or stay in 24-hour cafés, and unfortunately, some people try to take advantage of them,” said Boulos-Winton.
The Plante administration at Montreal city hall plans on creating 6,000 social housing units over the coming years, with 1,000 slated specifically for the homeless. Their plans rely on support from the new CAQ government in Quebec City.
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“I’m sure that social housing and other issues that our extremely important to our administration will be on the table when the mayor meets with Francois Legault in the coming weeks,” said Sterling Downey, Montreal City Council vice-chair. “We need to do this now; I’m curious to see what will follow.”
The Night of the Homeless takes place in 40 cities around the world.