MONTREAL -- A new pilot project in Place Émilie-Gamelin, the square next to Berri-UQAM metro, aims to connect more homeless people with health care and other essential services.

It works on the principle of delivering those services right to the people who need them, by setting up three temporary container-like offices right at the square. That way, people can walk right in.

“We go around, see if we can either reach people who do not know we're here…or people can come up to the containers, ask what we're doing, ask if we have services that are interesting for them,” said Elaine Polflit.

Polflit is the coordinator for the local health authority’s COVID-19 response for people suffering from homeless or addiction.

Not only health-care workers and social workers are on site, but police, so if anyone has been the victim of a crime they’re welcome to report it, said Polflit.

People with no home have a hard time getting basic services, she said. Sometimes they can’t work on organizations’ schedules, or they can’t get out to the location where an appointment would be.

But there are also many social and emotional obstacles, she said.

“People who are homeless don't necessarily feel comfortable going to a hospital, going to a CLSC,”

“We know, and it's been studied, that proximity services, outreach, street work, it’s one of the best ways to reach those people who are vulnerable and marginalized,” she said.

“It helps to form a bond with them so they can trust the social worker or the nurse and [that can] be one of the first steps to going to the CLSC or hospital to get services that are needed.” 

The project is being funded through Info-Crime Montreal, the Ville-Marie borough and Quartier des Spectacles.

Watch the video above to see the new setup at Place Emilie-Gamelin.