Another puzzle to solve: Montreal women fleeing violence avoiding shelters for fear of COVID-19
MONTREAL -- Adding shelter beds around the city is only part of the puzzle Montreal will have to solve this winter for people who need emergency housing.
Women and children fleeing violence have been more reluctant to turn to shelters than usual for fear of contracting COVID-19, according to one women's shelter.
To ease the fears of women escaping abuse, the Shield of Athena shelter has instead been paying for hotel rooms, where women and their children can stay while they wait for a negative test result.
But that's not cheap.
“Every time we put a woman into a hotel it might cost us a hundred dollars a day,” said Melpa Kamateros, executive director of Shield of Athena.
One thing that would help is making sure people in this kind of emergency can get COVID-19 tests back quickly, she said.
“Women victims of conjugal violence have not been deemed as priority clients to be tested and we have no control of when the test results will be given,” she said, noting that some women have to wait as many as six days for their results.
The Shield of Athena ran on a shoestring budget even before the pandemic, and now fundraising efforts like its annual art auction have been moved online.
More news is coming this week about how Montreal is planning to manage shelters of all kinds during the second wave and throughout the winter. Montreal Public Health is expected to make an announcement on the topic on Thursday.