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Former Verdun seniors residence purchased by city set to open as winter homeless shelter

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A former seniors residence in Verdun that the City of Montreal purchased will open on Friday as a new emergency homeless shelter during the winter.

"We're opening this site for 50 people," said Josefina Blanco, from Montreal's executive committee. "There [are] big needs, important needs in terms of shelter, in term of homeless people."

The facility will welcome men and women. Meals and snacks will be provided and the building will operate 24/7.

"That's a best practice when it comes to emergency services because people can stay inside during the day," said James Hughes, the CEO of the Old Brewery Mission CEO. "Not only is that good in terms of getting out of the cold, but it lets you work to get to know people."

Verdun says there is homelessness in the borough, but not many resources are available.

"Specific resources for homeless is really, really limited," Celine-Audrey Beauregard, a borough councillor, said.

Not everyone is on board with the project. Papers denouncing the shelter were left on the windshield of several cars on Thursday.

Some residents voiced their concerns about not being consulted at a public meeting earlier this month.

"As a society, how can we [leave] this place empty when there [are] people, local people, outside without having a roof [over] their heads?" Blanco said.

The emergency shelter will be open until June. The city says construction work will begin next summer to turn the building into affordable housing. 

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