A new wet shelter has opened at the Old Brewery Mission designed to help some of the most vulnerable homeless people better manage their alcohol consumption and take control of their lives.
Thirty spaces have opened where consumption is permitted in a private area under supervision by Montreal health care workers.
Not all the places are full yet, but officials expect demand to grow and they anticipate a high turnover rate.
“We have people come and go, try it for a little while, not necessarily like it because they are not there right now and then come back,” Élaine Polflit, an intervention worker at the CIUSSS du Centre-Sud-de-l’Île-de-Montréal, said during a news conference.
The pilot project is the first in Montreal.
The Old Brewery Mission is hoping to draw on experience from other wet shelters in the rest of the country to make this one a success.
“We’ve seen other examples in the five other provinces where this is actually going on tremendous success in this regard. So, we’re really excited to bring it to Montreal,” James Hughes, the president of the Old Brewery Mission, told Global News.
The people who qualify for the program have to do so voluntarily and they’re not required to be registered in a detox centre.
Health care officials say forced interventions often fail.
“We know from the research that there is a population that their alcohol problem is so severe and so chronic that there is no way that asking them to go through something that is mandatory is going to work,” Polflit said.
The program is only available to adult males experiencing homelessness but there are plans to eventually expand the wet shelter to women as well.