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Former Montreal Hospital Converted To Shelter For Homeless People And Their Pets This Winter

The city of Montréal is looking out for the homeless this winter. Using a former hospital, the city has made plans to temporarily house homeless people, keeping them safe and warm during the freezing winter months. And, unlike other homeless shelters, this one doesn’t have as many restrictions, allowing people to even bring their pets!

A Great Need

In Montréal, the number of homeless people is, sadly, steadily rising. With the harsh winter season, shelters found that they were struggling to keep up. Established shelters were quickly filled to capacity, leaving so many others out in the cold.

Another problem was that several of the homeless also had pets. Unfortunately, pets are not allowed in many shelters. City officials saw that they needed to come up with another solution to continue to help those in need. So they devised an idea that would work, at least for this winter.

A Temporary Plan

Montréal’s historic Royal Victoria Hospital, which has been closed since 2015, was converted into an 80-bed homeless shelter for the winter months. The city’s executive committee approved $50,000 be donated to the project, while the province provided the rest of the money for the conversion. The total funds invested for the project equal $228,000.

The temporary shelter opened on January 15, 2019, and will stay open until April 15. Unlike other shelters, this temporary one is open to women and men as well as their pets. However, it is only open when all of the other shelters are full or to those who aren’t allowed to bring their pets in. Nevertheless, Montréal administration is hopeful of the temporary plan and developing something long-term. “We’ve been able to move forward quickly on creating this emergency unit for homeless people,” said Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante in an interview. “Of course, this is for this winter, but what is a positive sign is knowing that our administration wants to find a solution on the long-term.”

Long-Term Solutions

Officials are looking into finding a way to combat the problem of homelessness for the long run. Mayor Plante plans to meet with Quebec Health Minister Danielle McCann this year to discuss Montreal’s homelessness issues. Legislators in the province are also looking at securing permanent housing for when the shelter closes in the spring.

Sam Watts, CEO of the city homeless shelter Welcome Hall Mission, also invited people to support organizations currently working on this issue. “The real help the public can provide is to help fund the organizations that are trying to help people get out of those situations, and that’s what we encourage,” he shared. “Homelessness does not need to exist in Montreal. We’re making some good progress toward eliminating it.

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