Just steps away from schools, parks and public transportation in the heart of downtown Montreal sits a fully renovated 24-unit building that has been providing affordable housing for single moms for over 30 years.
Local organization Project Chance offers rent at about 25 per cent of a tenants salary and is now hoping to fill several vacancies, but there is a catch. Applicants must be attending a post-secondary institution and show proof they have full custody of their child.
“We are sympathetic to many of the women who apply that are not in school, but you have to stick to your criteria, because otherwise you’re going to be mixing,” says Project Hope Board Member Brian Casey. “The mix won’t be good. Everybody has to be in the same boat to make it work.”
And it has been working well for many of the residents.
Tiffany Cortez has been with Project Chance for about four years and now sits on the board of directors. She’s been able to finish a Special Care Counselling program and will be starting university in the fall.
“Prior to this kind of help my life was really difficult and kind of a mess,” says Cortez. “When you don’t have education your opportunities are extremely limited. It’s a really great community. It’s full of very strong women. It’s very supportive. We help each other out.”
Cortez says they are hoping to get the message out to other women but it can be difficult to advertise online.
“There’s a lot of women here who are getting away from abusive relationships so we want to protect their identities,” she adds.
“We want to keep it as safe as possible but we do still do want to spread awareness because we are aware there’s a lot of women who could use this resource.”
Fellow resident Lotoya Hibbert has been at Project Chance for 2.5 years and says she doesn’t know where she would be without the help.
“I used to live with my brother in a one-bedroom, with my two-year-old daughter,” says Hibbert. “It would take me two hours to get to school by bus.”
Hibbert now walks to school and is finishing a business degree while working part-time at an insurance company. She has also been able to get her insurance license.
“It’s ok asking for help. It’s ok accepting that help.” She says. “There is so much help available and it’s been a lifesaver.”
Those interested in applying to Project Chance can get in touch by emailing the organization at firstname.lastname@example.org or Projetchance2020@gmail.com.