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Emergency shelter in Montreal forced to close with no plan for new location


An emergency shelter at the Hôtel-Dieu that opened during the COVID-19 pandemic and is still used by nearly 200 people is being forced to move with no plans yet for a new location.

Noovo Info has learned that the refuge has until March 31 to relocate, despite the fact that the City of Montreal has yet to find a suitable spot, leaving many wondering what will happen to the people who rely on it.

The official opposition at City Hall is criticizing Mayor Valérie Plante's administration for its lack of planning.

"Where is the Plante administration? Where is Projet Montréal? Why isn't the city providing locations? There are 76 vacant buildings in Montreal," said Benoît Langevin, official opposition spokesperson for homelessness, in an interview with Noovo Info. "How come we haven't been investing for six years in a significant way to deal with the human crisis we're experiencing?"

The Centre hospitalier de l'Université de Montréal (CHUM) says it has decided to part ways with the building.

The CIUSSS du Centre-Sud-de-l'Île-de-Montréal is set to take over with the aim of "offering other services to the population," according to Émilie Fortier, vice-president of services at the Old Brewery Mission.

"It's not easy to identify places that can and want to welcome people experiencing homelessness," said Fortier, adding that the preferred strategy is to find smaller spaces to accommodate the homeless population rather than opting for a single, larger site.

On Tuesday night, upwards of 186 people slept at the shelter.

One of them is Cathy Goyette, who stays on a floor for women.

"As long as it doesn't close, it's fine because there are many, many people on the street," she said.

Sam Watts, CEO of the Welcome Hall Mission, says "a real plan" is needed to find a quick solution, acknowledging that there aren't many places for people experiencing homelessness to go.

"There's a gap, that's for sure, but that doesn't mean there's nothing out there, and it's all about being creative," he told Noovo Info.

Robert Beaudry, who is responsible for homelessness on the City of Montreal's executive committee, says the city is working with its partners to avoid "a breakdown in service."

"For the City of Montreal, it is absolutely essential to maintain the number of places available in emergency shelters and drop-in centres throughout the territory," he said Wednesday.

-- with files from Noovo Info. Top Stories

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