What If Three More Steps Were Enough to End Homelessness in Montreal?

An open letter signed by the following member organizations of the Mouvement pour Mettre Fin à l’Itinérance à Montréal: Accueil Bonneau, Cap St-Barnabé, CARE Montreal, Le Chaînon, Maison du Père, Welcome Hall Mission, Old Brewery Mission, Projets Autochtones du Québec.

The pandemic was a time for combining the strengths of our organizations. Together, we offer various solutions to improve access to and delivery of services that help people get off the street or avoid ending up there. We are writing this letter to encourage all relevant stakeholders and organizations to follow suit in order to effectively combat homelessness in Montreal. Our work is aligned with government agencies, but we believe greater coordination between them and front-line organizations, particularly at the level of funding, is required to achieve meaningful results.

The principles underlying our shared vision are simple:

  • To recognize our individual and collective expertise as organizations specializing in homelessness and the contributions we make to a continuum of services. 
  • To provide access to services adapted to people and groups with specific needs (women, transgendered people, Indigenous people, people with chronic diseases, mental health issues and/or addictions, people suffering from premature aging, the elderly, etc.).
  • To strengthen partnerships with the health and social services network, municipal authorities and community organizations.
  • To facilitate rapid admission to housing through measures such as easing eligibility criteria for subsidized housing and coordination with psychosocial and community support programs, regardless of the model offered by partner organizations.  

 

Our vision is based on three essential, interconnected pillars that require funds to be made available in a coordinated, sustainable manner: 

 

     1.To stop acting in response to emergency situations with last-minute, short-term funding with no guarantee of renewal and instead fund ongoing shelter and reintegration services on a 24/7 basis throughout the year, as we proposed in Un Pas de Plus in June 2021.

 

2.  To fund and support 2,250 people in housing for five years. Sustained efforts in this regard will help, on the one hand, to reduce the burden on emergency services and, on the other hand, to achieve savings on public spending which exceed the cost of the solutions we propose. At the same time, this will enable a gradual reduction in the number of emergency spots required.

 

3. To develop and implement a coordinated shelter system that makes it possible, for example, to meet housing or adapted housing needs in collaboration with all partners.

There is nothing unrealistic about the solutions we suggest: we have already tried some of them with success. Consider, for instance, the 625 people who have obtained housing and support through phases 1, 2, and 3 of Projet Logement Montréal since 2016 and the 177 other people who, via the Bienvenue program implemented since the start of the pandemic at the Royal Victoria, Place Dupuis and Hôtel-Dieu shelters, also found and—in almost 90% of cases—retained housing. There are also those people housed and supported at the studio apartments run by a number of our organizations. All of these initiatives promote residential stability.

In short, trois pas de plus is an appeal to key political and governmental players at different levels to demonstrate their goodwill and sense of community at this critical juncture by leveraging their individual and collective experience to create winning conditions for the effective delivery of prevention and shelter services, social reintegration and housing support. This may be achieved through the three pillars outlined above.

Naturally, emergency situations that require an agile response will continue to arise, but these must no longer influence the evolution of our services toward more efficient delivery. 

What is holding us back as a society from offering this? It is imperative that we collectively acquire the means to achieve our goals and realize them more quickly through concerted, coordinated effort at all levels.