Homeless shelters jammed as Montreal temperatures plunge
With Montreal’s temperatures sinking and its homeless shelters jammed frontline workers are scrambling to find solutions.
Antoine Roy, who has been homeless for over two years, said people in his situation are being hit hard by the situation.
“It kind of changes everything, some guys have blankets or sleeping bags,” he said. “I slept a little bit outside, during the day sometimes. But at night it’s not really possible unless you’re well-equipped.”
At the Old Brewery Mission demand is so high that there are no more beds and dozens of people are sleeping the cafeteria.
“It’s not the way we would like to host someone who’s in need,” said OBM President Matthew Pearce. “We’d like to give them a bed but we can’t when we’re full. So it’s not humane, it’s not dignified but it’s better than sleeping outdoors.”
On Saturday a collection of volunteers from Bien Vivre Ensemble gathered in Place Emilie Gamelin for their annual food and clothing drive. The event was moved up by a month because of the cold weather. The volunteers from the Iranian community gave away hot Persian soup, donated winter clothing and toiletries.
“We hope one day there are no people in the city that are in need of such help,” said Amir Naimi of Bien Vivre Ensemble.
Last year the city opened an emergency homeless shelter at the Royal Victoria Hospital’s old site in downtown Montreal. In October the city announced the shelter would open again this winter but not until Dec. 1. That shelter hosts around 80 beds.