Homelessness : A humanitarian crisis in Montréal – The Official Opposition calls for a moratorium on the closure of temporary emergency shelter resources

Montréal, August 4, 2020 – Ensemble Montréal, the Official Opposition at Montréal’s city hall, denounces the Plante administration’s mismanagement of the homelessness dossier. For several weeks now, dozens of tents sheltering homeless people have been popping up on Rue Notre-Dame East. This situation, unprecedented in the greater Montréal region, has been condemned by numerous community organizations.

Mr. Benoit Langevin, the Official Opposition critic for homelessness and youth, spoke with several heads of organizations at the site. They’re unanimous; they aren’t being consulted before closing resources and the Plante administration does not have a medium-term plan to stabilize the supply of emergency shelter services in the new COVID-19 reality. According to Mr. Langevin, job losses, the inability of some citizens to pay their rent due to COVID-19 and the early closures of housing resources explain the appearance of the “Notre-Dame campground”. 

“The Plante Administration is currently closing one by one all the temporary emergency resources created to meet the extraordinary needs stemming from COVID-19. These resources are still essential! They’ve closed the Maurice-Richard arena, the Women’s Y, and the Jean-Claude Malépart Centre. Today’s reality is that homeless groups have to decentralize their services to reduce the risk of transmission and allow for distancing,” observed Mr. Langevin.         

Ensemble Montréal shares the concern of these organizations because the new faces of homelessness are hidden behind these improvised shelters. “These are sometimes even families who don’t want to abide by the rules of housing resources and for whom relocating to a hotel is undesirable due to the lack of food assistance,” Mr. Langevin stated.  

The Plante administration must stop fooling around with the lives of these vulnerable people. Ensemble Montréal is asking them to declare a moratorium on the closing of temporary shelters. The Official Opposition also expects them to set up a round table with homelessness organizations and develop a rapid action plan to stabilize resources for the expected second wave of the pandemic. 

“Today, Ensemble Montréal is sounding the alarm and asking that Montréal act immediately in this matter. It’s not just a question of public health, it’s a question of ensuring the well-being of every citizen hard hit by the current crisis; they are also Montrealers,” concluded Mr. Langevin.

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