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Tensions rising between residents in Montreal's Chinatown and homeless population

Homeless people continue to reside in Montreal's Chinatown leaving an uneasy relation with the community's residents brewing. Homeless people continue to reside in Montreal's Chinatown leaving an uneasy relation with the community's residents brewing.
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Tensions between residents and homeless people in Montreal's Chinatown are growing.

This weekend, a community organization distributed food along De La Gauchtiere Street, but residents who live just steps away say it's encouraging people to stay when the city should be finding other solutions.

"I'm scared every day to go out from here," said resident Marie-Josee Leblanc.

"It's not like when I came here," said another resident ResChristiane Jansen. "It's not the same environment."

Last October, a homeless shelter at Complexe Guy Favreau closed. Since then, residents and business owners have reported more crime and drug use.

However, despite sharing their concerns, they say they were ignored by the city.

Many who used the shelter ended up on the street and other facilities, like the Old Brewery Mission, are at capacity.

The residents are suggesting the city convert empty office buildings into shelter space and housing.

"There's lots of empty buildings, even if it's not up to norms and standards, it's better than tents," said Jansen.

For the civil rights group CRARR (Center for Research-Action on Race Relations), it's alarming the situation hasn't been solved since the fall.

"There's something wrong with so much money being spent and people still aren't getting services," said CRARR executive director Fo Niemi.

The city said it can't tolerate camping in public spaces or that the street "becomes an open air hospital or home."

"Our teams take the time to refer these people to different resources depending on their needs," the city said.

Meanwhile, tensions continue to rise, leaving an uneasy relationship between neighbours. 

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