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Montreal rejects proposal to increase funding for homelessness resources

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An amendment to increase funding for homelessness resources was defeated at Montreal City Hall on Wednesday, at a time when homeless encampments continue to pop up across the island and there are fewer outreach workers to help.

The city's budget currently sits at $6.5 million, but the opposition says that's not enough.

On Wednesday, Ensemble Montreal's critic for homelessness, Benoit Langevin, proposed adding an additional $5 million to the pot -- a measure backed by former Projet Montreal councillor Craig Sauvé.

"We don't want another person suffering on the streets, we don't want to see another person overdose," Sauvé said, showing his support for the amendment. "I know everyone in this room holds that to be true, but it's not being reflected, to me, in this budget. And I don't think it's being reflected in our political action."

Langevin says the funding could go towards hiring more outreach workers, which he says community groups desperately need.

"We were told that there was 40 [fewer] outreach workers pre vs. post pandemic," he said.

The Plante administration, who rejected the amendment, points out that money to help the homeless population also comes in the form of housing.

"Some of those are rooming houses, some of those are big complexes for affordable housing. We put millions into that," said Alain Vaillancourt, Executive Committee member for public security.

But Langevin disagrees with this reasoning.

"I find it really misleading," he said. "It's like comparing the answer of buying the Grand Parc de l'Ouest and saying it's going to have an impact on the floods we get here in Pierrefonds-Roxboro every year. Affordable housing is absolutely essential, but will it be a direct answer to the encampments we're dealing with right now? No."

A recent report found homelessness in Montreal increased by 33 per cent between 2018 and 2022, and 44 per cent in Quebec overall.

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