April 15, 2019 1:05 pm

Montreal emergency homeless shelter closing for the season

The former site of the Royal Victoria Hospital in downtown Montreal welcomed the city's homeless into its emergency shelter.

Tim Sargeant/Global News
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The overflow shelter for Montreal’s homeless at the former Royal Victoria Hospital will be closing its doors Monday.

READ MORE: More than half of Quebec’s homeless population lives in Montreal

The temporary shelter was opened on Jan. 15 to give more than 3,000 homeless people a safe place to sleep.

“Very few people got accustomed to staying there because there was a lot of turnover,” said Matthew Pearce, CEO of the Old Brewery Mission.

“People staying there were people who didn’t get a bed in one of the shelters around the city.”

WATCH BELOW: How big is Montreal’s homeless population?


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There was a shuttle bringing people to the shelter, which was open to both men and women.

READ MORE: Montreal homeless count returns to the city

“We were concerned about safety in a mixed-gender environment and we had no incidents that related to the fact that there was a mixed-gender context there,” Pearce said.

About 1,000 men and 130 women used the service this winter.

“On the contrary, the fact that the service was offered to men and women attracted couples, and transgender people felt welcomed,” the Old Brewery mission noted

WATCH BELOW: Despite bitter cold, homeless people found sleeping outdoors by Lachine Canal

The Old Brewery Mission, along with the other participating organizations — Accueil Bonneau, Welcome Hall Mission and Maison du Père — said they found their own shelters were not overflowing this winter thanks to the temporary unit.

“With the closing of the overflow unit on Monday, we expect an influx of people in our emergency services,” it stated.

Representatives from various shelters say they will be evaluating how things unfold in the weeks to follow.

WATCH BELOW: How an emergency shelter is helping Montreal’s homeless come in from the cold

They note the solution to homelessness is finding permanent lodging for people, rather than emergency beds.

READ MORE: Montreal unveils $7.8-million homeless strategy that includes more housing

Pearce said the group of shelters is already in conversations with the City of Montreal and the province of Quebec to reopen the emergency shelter next year.

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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