Homelessness, a priority for Montreal

Homelessness, a priority for Montreal
Homelessness, a priority for Montreal

It is estimated that around 3,100 people are homeless in the metropolis. Before, the problem was concentrated in the city center, but today, the issue of homelessness goes far beyond the borders of the Ville-Marie borough.

Posted on October 18, 2021 at 5:00 a.m.

We meet people in a situation of homelessness in Villeray, Hochelaga-Maisonneuve, Lachine, Montreal-North… And this is no longer an exclusively Montreal reality: Longueuil, Laval, Sherbrooke, Quebec and Gatineau all have a homeless population, much less important than in Montreal, however, and the problems that come with it: human distress, difficult cohabitation with neighborhood residents, chronic lack of resources to meet the complex needs of this vulnerable population, etc.

Add to that the pandemic that has driven people to the streets who lived on a precarious paycheck, and the picture is complete. We do have a crisis in front of us.

Proof that the problem is more glaring than ever: it is back on the list of priorities of our politicians. The two main candidates for mayor of Montreal have made homelessness an important part of their agenda. With reason.

Because we can no longer stand idly by. If we do not act quickly, the number of people in the street will increase … and cohabitation problems such as those we see in the Milton Parc neighborhood, where a hundred residents demonstrated at the beginning of October, will end. ‘intensify. No one wants this.

The good news is that homelessness is not an unsolvable problem.

There are concrete solutions, such as support for housing, an approach that has given results all over the world as well as in Montreal. The 2000solutions platform, an initiative of a network of Montreal homeless workers, recently announced that it had found housing for 1,829 people over the past five years. Pandemic obliges, it will undoubtedly reach its objective of 2000 next year.

Housing support is also the keystone of the five-year plan “Un pas de plus” developed by the seven main organizations that work in homelessness in the metropolis, including the Bon Accueil and Old Brewery missions. They are asking that we put an end to temporary solutions, such as these shelters that are opened in disaster during extreme cold or heat waves, and that we instead develop lasting measures, with the funding that comes with it.

As they are the ones who have a detailed knowledge of the reality on the ground, we must listen to them.

This is what seems to have done Valérie Plante and Denis Coderre, whose commitments in roaming are partly inspired by the plan “Un pas de plus”.

Their two formations have relevant proposals at the heart of which we find the creation of housing for people experiencing homelessness, accompanied by psychosocial support: for the next four years Valérie Plante promises 1,200, Denis Coderre, 1800.

The problem is that, as in many cases, the City does not control all the financial levers to achieve this type of promise. Without the money from Ottawa and Quebec, no housing and no psychosocial services.

This is where one of Denis Coderre’s proposals takes on its full meaning. His formation proposes to give back the power to act to the Protector of people experiencing homelessness, who became a commissioner under the Plante administration.

This is the ideal position to become the lobbyist for the most vulnerable Montrealers, the one who will knock on the right doors, who will convince all stakeholders – and there are many – to tie up programs and allocate resources to good places.

The ideas are there. The will seems to be there too. All that’s missing is determination and coordination to make it happen. The dignity and security of our fellow citizens in a situation of homelessness depend on it.

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