Governments are making a major commitment to fight homelessness in Montreal, with $5.45 million set aside for the next few years. The new money is geared to helping Indigenous people and creating a wet shelter in the city.
The partnership between the Quebec government and the city, which was announced on Friday, comes as a homeless crisis is growing in downtown Cabot Square.
Advocates have been arguing for more services in the area, saying the situation has been descending into chaos since the Open Door shelter moved to a different neighbourhood.
The funding will be used to create the Réflexe Montréal en itinérance (FRMI), a new initiative to fight homelessness in the city. Over the next five years, it will be used to support measures across Montreal.
“It will help us optimize the services offered to the population, in a way that is adapted to the specific needs of the Montreal territory, according to established priorities, as well as in a concerted and coherent manner at the regional level,” said Quebec Health Minister Danielle McCann in a statement.
It will specifically help women who are living on the streets, provide community support for social housing and offer support to Indigenous people who spend time at the square.
It will also be used to implement a supervised alcohol consumption service for the homeless in Montreal. While most shelters in the city are strictly dry centres, so-called wet shelters don’t turn away clients who are under the influence.
Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante praised the partnership on social media, saying it will offer more services to those who need it most.
“This agreement is a major step in the prevention and fight against homelessness, by contributing to concrete changes in the lives of vulnerable Montrealers,” she wrote.