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Photo-Reportage: Homelessness Services During the Pandemic, Seen from the Frontline

28 April 2020

For most people confined to home for the past six weeks, it can be difficult to imagine a day in the life of frontline workers. It’s even more difficult to imagine experiencing homelessness at a time like this: where to go and how to stay safe from the coronavirus? To answer these questions, we’ve put together a photo-reportage to give you a glimpse of our adapted homelessness services during the pandemic.

A window on our services amid the pandemic

These photos were taken by Christian Blais, who made sure to comply with physical distancing guidelines and wore the necessary personal protective equipment.

Close collaboration with the city of Montreal

  • The city has officially announced a total of 541 beds available to homeless people.
  • Four respite stops have been opened: at Dawson College (near Cabot Square), the Grande Bibliothèque, the Francis-Bouillon arena, and George’s Anglican Church.
  • Five outdoor day centres have also been opened, providing meals, access to bathrooms, and support from social intervention workers. The day centre at Place du Canada/St. George’s Church is staffed by our team members.

  • A new temporary shelter has opened at the Maurice Richard arena, in the Mercier–Hochelaga-Maisonneuve borough. It joins those already in place at Complexe Guy-Favreau, the Downtown YMCA, the Bonsecours Market, and Centre Jean-Claude-Malépart.
  • A quarantine unit for homeless people who have tested positive for COVID-19 has been set up at the former Royal Victoria Hospital. As of today, 12 patients are admitted.
  • Four hotels have been requisitioned by the city, and our experienced staff members are working at two of those hotels. These sites are taking in homeless people with negative test results.

With support from the government and community resources, these services were mobilized quickly, with others soon to follow.

Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante applauded the efforts of partners such as the Old Brewery Mission in a press release (French only).

To support our staffing needs, we have hired several people and will continue to add to our team in the field. Our expanded team is working hard to provide emergency services across the city, as you can see in the photos above, and implement the recommended prevention measures.

To date, no cases of COVID-19 have been reported at our facilities—proof that our efforts are paying off amid this unprecedented crisis.

We need your help to keep up our work. Please donate to help our frontline services continue responding to the pandemic.

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