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Montreal shelters full as demand grows for homeless population

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With July 1 moving day fast approaching, the Old Brewery Mission said it's already turning people away from one of its shelters because there is simply not enough space.

The mission is worried about what the coming weeks will bring.

Dany Aubin said living in shelters is not ideal.

"There are nice places, but it's not a home," he said.

He moved into a Villeray studio apartment with the help of the Old Brewery Mission's Passerelle program, which has a 75 per cent success rate in finding people a place to live.

The organization says, however, that demand has exploded.

"There's 5,000 people who are going to be homeless tonight in Montreal," said Old Brewery Mission president and CEO James Hughes. "In 2018, there were 3,000 people."

Hughes knows that with moving day approaching, the demand will increase.

"It's really on steroids at this time of year," he said.

At the Patricia McKenzie Women's Shelter, it has also had to turn away people.

In May, it could not accept 318 people, and two weeks into June, 144 more were refused.

"The shelter is always full," said weekend supervisor Sylvia de Sousa. "When we have a bed that becomes available, it's within the 12 hours that it's filled up."

She said the shelter is seeing more elderly people and refugee claimants.

In addition to a housing shortage, Hughes said evictions are a driving force behind the numbers. De Sousa added that people simply can't afford an apartment anymore.

"It's priced out of their range," she said. "That's the simple answer." 

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