The Quebec government is injecting $280 million over the next five years to help fight homelessness and find permanent places to live for people who don’t have fixed addresses.
The money is being earmarked for shelters such as the Old Brewery Mission and the Welcome Hall Mission in Montreal.
The funds also include plans to help Indigenous people who don’t have a place to call home and additional funding is aimed at temporary shelters for women.
“To make sure no women in need would be by herself on the street,” Neila Ben Ayed, director of the Patricia Mackenzie Pavilion of the Old Brewery Mission, told Global News.
The Old Brewery Mission and the Welcome Hall Mission are operating at full capacity.
And a shelter has opened with around-the-clock services at the site of the former Hotel Dieu hospital.
“This plan is a very significant change from previous plans,” Lionel Carmant, the junior health minister, said at a Monday morning press conference.
Many details still have to be worked out, but those running some of Montreal’s largest shelters welcome the new funding.
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“This is a comprehensive plan of the kind we have not seen before,” James Hughes, the CEO of the Old Brewery Mission, told Global News.
It’s estimated there are 3,500 to 4,000 people living in Montreal without a fixed address, a number Hughes says has been growing in recent years.
He says one of the challenges is dealing with the skyrocketing values of the real estate market in Montreal.
“We have a housing market that is helping to surge homelessness,” Hughes said.
Sam Watts of the Welcome Hall Mission is a strong advocate to help move people out of temporary shelters and into permanent homes.
“We have determined that it’s not acceptable that we should let people be homeless or hungry in 2021 in Montreal,” Watts told Global News.
He said the government’s funding is move toward that goal.
“I think it’s a step in the right direction,” he said.