Homelessness is no different in other places. There’s simply no places to go. Montreal is changing that. Since January 15 those experiencing homelessness are able to go to the former Royal Victoria Hospital — a site closed off since 2015.
The former hospital became a shelter. Patient rooms in the hospital have been converted into 80-bedrooms which are open to those sleeping in the cold.
The shelter was launched because other homeless shelters faced limited capacity and the struggle to accommodate those sleeping in the below-freezing temperatures.
Unlike the majority of city shelters in Montreal, people will have the option of bringing their pets to this shelter.
Although the shelter will only stay open until April 15, provincial legislators are working with city officials to secure more long-term solutions and permanent housing.
One organization, Old Brewery Mission is also working with city officials to end the homeless dilemma. The organization will also help run the shelter. In the meantime, they continue to lobby the city to create more space.
“All the beds are occupied. And people still come to our doors,” Matthew Pearce, president and CEO of the Old Brewery Mission, told Mother Nature Network. “We’ve been accommodating them — so we don’t turn people away in the cold — on the floor in our cafeteria, for example.”
“This is not dignified… this is not the proper way to host people in an organization that seeks to move people out of homelessness and back into society. It’s not an expression of respect for the individual or a sense that they have a place in society — to tell them they have to go and sleep on the floor.”
Accommodating not only people, but their pets are also another task Old Brewery Mission is working on.
“None of the existing main resources for homelessness are equipped in such a way as to allow pets to come in,” Pearce explains. “These are people who, because of that, are left without an option. At least in the winter, let’s give them an option.”
Overall progress is being made in helping people off the streets.
“We’ve been able to move forward quickly on creating this emergency unit for homeless people,” Montreal mayor Valerie Plante told CBC. “of course, this is for this winter, but what is a positive sign is knowing that our administration wants to find a solution in the long term.”
“No one should be outside right now. Everyone deserves a roof,” she added.
“We’re making some good progress toward eliminating homelessness in Montreal. But the reality is right now, we do need a temporary facility over the course of winter because we don’t want to leave anybody on the streets,” Sam Watts, CEO of the Welcome Hall Mission said.
P. Kenneth Capron of Portland, Maine wants to make a difference no one has ever thought of. He is on a mission to find and transform a decommissioned ship into a housing community for the homeless.
Capron, the president of a nonprofit called Memory Works, has deemed this project Hope Harbor. Currently, hope is what Capron must cling to. He does not have a specific ship in mind, but he is applying for funds.
He applied for a $250,000 grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to orchestrate the first contingent study on converting cruise ships into housing. Capron”s goal is to serve not only the homeless population, but individuals who need housing the most.
“We’re looking at four populations: the homeless population, the low-income population, the workforce population and immigrant population who all need housing. They all need job skills training. We’d offer that on board.”
Although the cruise ship would not be considered long-term housing, it could offer resources and shelter to those who need it most.
According to Portland Mayor Ethan Strimling, the city would need approximately 1,000 housing units and a cruise ship could house up to 800 people — plus 300 crew members to offer social services, counseling and support.
“I have no idea if it’s the craziest idea I’ve ever heard, or the most brilliant idea I’ve ever heard, but what I like about it is that he’s coming up with creative ways to figure out how to build housing in the city of Portland,” Strimiling told WMTW.
“There’s tons of hurdles that anyone would have to overcome to do this, but once again I need housing. So if people want to bring crazy, far-fetched ideas to me, I’m happy to hear them out,” Strimiling added.
Overall, Capron is optimistic about the idea and wants to pursue it forward.
“I’m big into things that other people haven’t tried,” he told CBS Boston.
Capron believes the housing genuinely could benefit immigrants, single parents and others in need of more affordable options.
“Portland just happens to be really the best laboratory I can imagine because we have all the pieces to do the study,” Capron said.
Capron went on to further express his optimism and belief for why his concept could work.
“They’re going to try to throw all the negatives at you up front. That’s why we’re doing a feasibility study to see if those are valid negatives or something we can work around,” he said.
Retired teacher and former Army serviceman Ken Walker has a passion for helping fellow veterans in need. The Portland native spends his time serving homeless servicemen and women who require transportation to the doctor’s office or grocery store.
Bob Reese is one of many veterans who have gratefully received Walker’s help. “Give him a call, say you gotta do this or that, and he’ll come with his car, take you where you gotta go, do what you gotta do,” Reese told KATU news.
Reese lost access to permanent housing last year, but anticipates moving into a private apartment in June. Walker wants to ensure that veterans like Reese make the transition back to permanent housing successfully.
“To me, this is vets helping vets and keeping vets in housing,” Walker explained. “You know, formerly homeless vets but now they’re in housing, and I want to keep them there.”
To help needy veterans ease the burden of food insecurity, Walker also runs a food pantry and household items distribution center at his church. “A lot of guys when they become homeless they lose everything,” Walker said. “They’re starting from scratch.”
Walker provides more than material goods to the destitute, however. For many veterans, he also offers friendship, empathy, and a listening ear. “We hang out and get a burger and we talk,” said veteran Scott Ramsden. “He’s the only person I can talk to about my problems, that I know he’s listening and really cares. He’s my best friend.”
Walker encourages the public to recognize both the vulnerability and dignity of homeless individuals. “If you see homeless people, treat them with respect,” he explained. “You know, look at them, talk to them, you know they are people too.”
In Walker’s experience, grateful hearts amply reward his efforts to treat the homeless with compassion.
On October 14th, Oregon City residents donated part of their weekend to help construct shelters for homeless veterans.
In Clackamas County, the city of Portland and Portland State University partnered to fund the effort–a transitional shelter pilot project on county land which will provide up to 30 homeless service members with a dry place to spend the night.
“I think people deserve shelter,” explained project construction manager Brendan Murphy. “If we’re a community we need to take care of people who don’t have shelter.”
The county, city, and university have taken care to reduce the environmental impact of the new dwellings: each shelter incorporates wood recycled from Oregon’s Pickathon Music Festival.
Ultimately, project leaders hope to provide homeless veterans with an entry point into more permanent, secure living situations. “The goal is people will live [in the shelters] in order to stabilize their lives and then move into transitional housing,” Murphy stated. Thanks to Oregon City’s generous residents, that goal is becoming a reality.
The office in charge of Pope Francis’ acts of charity announced the opening of a laundromat for Rome’s poor and homeless. Dubbed the “Lavenderia di Papa Francesco” (“Pope Francis Laundry”) this service was inspired by the pope’s call for “concrete signs of mercy” during the Year of Mercy in 2016.
“Here, then, is…a place and service to give a concrete form of charity and mercy to restore dignity to so many people who are our brothers and sisters,” said the Papal Almoner’s office.
The laundromat will be located in a complex run by the Rome-based Community of Sant’Egidio, which provides other services for the poor such as showers, a medical clinic, and a barber shop. Whirlpool Corporation donated the new washers and dryers and Procter & Gamble will donate free supplies of detergent and fabric softener, according to the Papal Almoner.