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International Women’s Day: Let’s Put an End to Women’s Homelessness

08 March 2021

Today, International Women’s Day, is a time to celebrate women’s achievements and shine a spotlight on the continued challenges and inequities women face. Here at the Old Brewery Mission, we see acts of remarkable courage and determination by women every day.

Seven months ago, the Old Brewery’s Patricia Mackenzie Pavilion (PMP) partnered with Le Chaînon and Mission Bon Accueil, with the support of Chez Doris and Projet Logement Montréal, to create a new program at the former Royal Victoria Hospital that enables women experiencing homelessness to find permanent housing.

Funded by the CIUSSS du Centre-Sud-de-l’Île-de-Montréal, the Programme de transition vers le logement pour les femmes (Transitional Housing Program for Women) has since enabled 67% of the women involved to get back on their feet, find permanent housing and reintegrate society.

“My apartment has gotten to feel like home and I’m so grateful for having it. They’re always there to help me if I need it and it’s continuous, at my pace—as long as it takes me to get where I have to be,” said Maggie, a woman who was previously homeless, but is now housed at our Lise Watier Pavilion.

Since the pilot program started in August 2020, highlights include:

  • 52 women experiencing homelessness welcomed since the beginning of the program
  • A friendly and comfortable living environment
  • 35 women housed permanently within the community
  • Adapted health, psychosocial support and housing search services

“This collaborative pilot project has proven successful and resulted in real housing solutions for women experiencing homelessness,” said Florence Portes, Director of Women’s Services at the Old Brewery Mission.

The program is due to end on March 31, yet programs like this are so necessary for the health, well-being and equity of women.

“The community approach is working. That’s why we are making a united call ” added Marie-Hélène Houle, Executive Director of Le Chaînon.

›› Read the op-ed signed by Florence Portes and Marie-Hélène Houle, published in Le Journal de Montréal (in French).

Despite progress, inequality remains

According to an in-depth review of available data on women’s homelessness in Canada conducted by the Women’s National Housing & Homelessness Network (WNHHN) in 2020, women disproportionately bear the burden of poverty. The data reveals that:

  • Women are more likely to hold unstable and low-income jobs.
  • One quarter of Black women live under the poverty line in Canada.
  • Indigenous women are overrepresented among women experiencing homelessness.
  • Landlords are more reluctant to rent an apartment to single mothers, women receiving financial assistance and Indigenous women.

New funding is needed

For over five years, alongside our partner Le Chaînon, we have been fighting to receive equitable funding from the provincial government as part of the Programme de soutien aux organismes communautaires (PSOC) (Community Organization Support Program).

New funding is essential for the organizations to continue to respond to the current needs of women experiencing homelessness as well as those of tomorrow.

As part of the 2021-2022 pre-budget consultations of the Quebec Minister of Finance, Le Chaînon and the PMP are joining forces to transmit their recommendations related to the sector assisting women experiencing homelessness in Montreal.

The memorandum summarizes the needs and requests of the two organizations for increased public funding to help carry out and sustain their respective missions. In the coming weeks, it will be published here.

Community support

After an initial collaboration in 2016 with Mariana Mazza for International Women’s Day, Le Cartel is renewing its involvement with the Old Brewery Mission by donating 100% of the profits of an exciting new collection entitled Midnight Mistress to our Women’s Services. The result of a collaboration between Le Cartel and Montreal tattoo artist, Epithumia Rose, this exclusive collection is composed of a bomber jacket ($200), a short-sleeved shirt ($40) and a pair of socks ($20).

Women’s services at the Mission are committed to amplifying the voices of women in highly vulnerable situations that we have been welcoming for the last 20 years. Every year, we help more than 500 women from all walks of life who are experiencing a diverse and complex range of problems.

Today, on International Women’s Day, we want to highlight the extent of the ongoing phenomenon of women’s homelessness today, despite the vital contribution of Montreal organizations dedicated to the cause.

Please help by donating, which will allow us to continue to support hundreds of at-risk women and women experiencing homelessness every year.


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