A nation-wide study revealed that at least 2,500 veterans in Canada are homeless. In Montreal, veterans account for about 6% of the homeless population. Thanks to our Sentinels of the Street program, implemented one year ago with the support of the Fondation québécoise des Vétérans, VETS Canada and the federal government, homeless veterans have a place to turn to for access to suitable housing and psychosocial support services tailored to their needs.
After more than one year since the program was launched, 16 homeless veterans have reintegrated into the community after years of living on the street and on the margins of society.
Mario Gagné, one such veteran, experienced homelessness on the streets of Montreal and credits the Mission with saving his life. “The workers here are very flexible, understanding and compassionate. They determine what each person needs and they do their best to help,” he explains. Read Mario’s full story here.
Last year, we welcomed close to 3,000 homeless men and women. Of these, 45 claimed to be a veteran. The study found that:
Matthew Pearce, the Mission’s CEO, explains the program’s success hinges on building trust with veterans and continuing to engage partners from various sectors. “We rely on Veterans Affairs and VETS Canada to confirm a person’s veteran status; our counsellors draw on the clinical expertise of la Fondation québécoise des Vétérans to better understand the issues they face, while we count on private property owners to partner with us to provide decent, affordable housing—collaboration is key,” he says.
Lieutenant-General (retired) Yvan Blondin, says that “at the Fondation québécoise des Vétérans, one of the things we could do best was to partner with the Mission. Together, when we get one veteran off the street, it’s a success.”
Major funding is also provided by the Innovation Fund of the federal government’s Homelessness Partnering Strategy (HPS), which funds projects that focus on supportive housing as important measures to help people overcome homelessness.
Yesterday, twelve volunteers from Revision Military, including Ben Wearing, Director of Commercial Sales, helped serve over 400 meals at our Saint-Laurent Campus cafeteria. This company, which produces protective equipment that saves lives, is the first private sector company to invest in Sentinels of the Street.