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Preventing homelessness: we can’t wait until July 1 to find solutions

13 June 2023

Montreal, June 13, 2023 – As July 1 approaches, many Montrealers are racing against the clock to find a place to live. Among them are people at high risk of homelessness, many of whom have been waiting months for social housing. To proactively address the problem, the Old Brewery Mission launched its homelessness prevention service over a year ago. The applied prevention approach developed by the Mission, based primarily on fruitful partnerships, is proving very successful.

The Old Brewery Mission is pleased to announce the initial results today. Over the past 12 months, the Mission’s prevention service has supported more than a hundred people, of whom 35 have found housing, 26 have found an appropriate solution and are waiting to be rehoused, and 16 are still looking for a solution.

Passerelle program: Productive partnership with the Office municipale de l’habitation de Montréal

More than a third (36%) of the referrals received by the Old Brewery Mission’s prevention service come from the Office municipal d’habitation de Montréal through the Passerelle program. Under this partnership, the Old Brewery Mission provides people at imminent risk of homelessness with accompaniment and psychosocial support until they are housed or have been referred to other available resources. The program operates 12 months a year to proactively address the risk of homelessness and help prevent the traditional July 1 housing crisis.

“We don’t want every July 1 to be a crisis situation,” says James Hughes, President and CEO of the Old Brewery Mission. “We have therefore set up this prevention service and formed a specialized intervention team that meets with at-risk people throughout the year to find individualized solutions.”

“I never thought I would find myself in this situation, I’ve never been in a shelter or on the street, but you make a few bad choices and everything collapses; it doesn’t just happen to other people…” says Mr. Thibault (not his real name), a participant in the Passerelle program. “Your service is my last hope before I find myself homeless. You can’t imagine how happy I am to know I might have a home. Connecting with your service is the best gift I’ve ever received.”

Different partnerships to meet specific needs

The Old Brewery Mission’s prevention service also works with specific client groups, such as people leaving correctional facilities or addiction treatment centres, and asylum seekers, who may face imminent homelessness at any time of the year. Partnerships are at the heart of the Old Brewery Mission’s applied prevention approach and are critical to the success of the service, both in receiving referrals and in finding adapted solutions.

The Après l’ombre program accounts for 35% of the referrals received. In partnership with the Elizabeth Fry Society of Quebec, the John Howard Society of Quebec and the YMCAs of Quebec, Après l’ombre helps people leaving provincial correctional facilities find secure housing to prevent them from ending up on the street.

Women leaving an addiction treatment centre are referred to the Old Brewery Mission by LI-BER-T House (4% of referrals) for support and help in finding permanent housing again. Asylum seekers are referred by the Regional Program for the Settlement and Integration of Asylum Seekers (PRAIDA) of the CIUSSS du Centre-Ouest-de-l’Île-de-Montréal. Several other partnerships are under development.

The hunt for housing

Of the people assisted by the prevention service, 14 have moved into housing owned by the Old Brewery Mission and 19 have found a solution and are set to move in. In response to the housing shortage, the Old Brewery Mission has stepped up the development of its own community housing properties, which now includes 119 units, and expanded its network of private landlords, making it possible to support over 200 people living in private housing. This rehousing portfolio enables the organisation to help the people at risk of homelessness transition into stable, secure housing.

At the same time, the Old Brewery Mission cooperates with the Nazareth Community (which provides housing and support for people experiencing problems with mental health, homelessness, trauma and/or substance use), the Maison du Père (social reintegration, shelter for seniors living on the street, housing) and Logis Rose Virginie (support to help vulnerable women achieve long-term social integration). The housing solutions offered by these organizations and the private sector complement those provided by the Old Brewery Mission to keep at-risk individuals off the path to homelessness.

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