A new report from the Centre intégré universitaire de santé et de services sociaux du Centre-Sud-de-l’Île-de-Montréal (CCSMTL) stated Friday that the temporary shelter that was held at the old Royal Victoria hospital this winter was a big success.
Between January 15 and April 15, for a period of 90 days, the converted hospital grounds sheltered 1,585 people, including pets, who would have otherwise had nowhere warm to stay during cold winter nights due to overcrowding issues at homeless shelters around the city.
Of the 1,585 people who sought refuge at the emergency venue, 89 per cent were men, 10 per cent were women and one per cent were trans. The shelter welcomed pets, as well, including dogs, cats and rats.
The shelter hosted an average of 67 people per night and saw a total of 6,806 stays. The occupants were between the ages of 18 and 85, with an average age of 46, the report states.
The temporary emergency venue was a group initiative from the CCSMTL, the City of Montreal, Mission Bon Accueil, Pavillon Patricia Mackenzie, the Old Brewery Mission, Maison du Père and l’Accueil Bonneau.
This was the pilot project’s first year in operation. The move came after Montreal’s homeless shelters voiced concerns about overcrowding in their facilities during the winter.
“We would put down mattresses on the floor of the cafeteria and we would have about 80 people lined up throughout the night,” said Old Mission Brewery president and CEO Matthew Pearce back in January. “It was inhumane and unhygienic.”
March 11 saw the highest number of people at the shelter — 103 — nearly filling up the total 105 beds available, said Justin Meloche, spokesperson for the CCSMTL.
The CCSMTL’s report said that the temporary additional accommodation was a big aid in reducing overcrowding pressures at other shelters around the city during the busy winter months. Organizers are already planning to repeat the project next winter.
Next winter’s venue is still being decided, said Meloche. The temporary shelter cost about $200,000 to build; the Quebec government provided $150,000 and the City of Montreal added $50,000.
Welcome Hall Mission president Sam Watts told Global News back in January that he estimates there are more than 3,000 people without a fixed address in Montreal.
— With files from Global News’ Rachel Lau
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