City of Montreal to add hundreds of beds, warming stations for the homeless as winter approaches
MONTREAL -- As the number of people on the streets has increased during the COVID-19 pandemic, the City of Montreal is adding hundreds of new beds for the homeless this winter.
The city is adding 1,650 places for the homeless, which is 700 more than usual, and the spots will be available a month prior to the usual date.
Starting Sunday, hundreds of new beds will gradually be made available as demand soars, and temperatures plunge.
The plan includes nearly 400 spots at the Place Dupuis Hotel with dedicated rooms for women, couples and people with disabilities.
There will also be three times the number of warming stations on the island from the Old Port to Pierrefonds.
Though the numbers are higher, 1,650 is still far below the estimated number of people experiencing homelessness, and some shelter directors say temporary solutions only go so far.
"It's a necessary patch, but it's a patch and, so what I'm looking for is using the crisis of COVID-19 as a bit of a trampoline to cause us to get a place that's better than where we are," said Welcome Hall Mission CEO Sam Watts.
The plan also includes using public transit buses to shuttle people to shelters with room.
However, there are no specific provisions for the Indigenous population, which is centralized around Cabot Square, kilometres from the new temporary shelters.
"Having something all the way on Saint-Hubert Street - I don't know," said Resilience Montreal co-manager Nakuset. "I mean, definitely people will use those spots, but I don't think it's going to be our population. They're going to be left out in the cold, literally."
Minister for Health and Social Services Lionel Carmant said an announcement is coming about added resources for the Indigenous population.
Chez Doris, meanwhile, is opening a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week service for Indigenous women as of December.
"The Inuit community, which is women, is really suffering out there during the pandemic," said Chez Doris executive director Marina Boulos-Winton.
Montreal Mayor Valerie Plante is calling the plan ambitious, but that the city is also looking to go further.
"We should keep that in mind it's a huge plan, but at the same time we need to look at what are the other options, and I think one of them is definitely about how do we make sure people have a permanent roof on top of their head," she said.