A funding crisis that has been facing Montreal women’s shelter Chez Doris for years now has culminated in the closure of the shelter on the weekends.
The shelter, situated in Shaughnessy Village near the Atwater Metro, has been routinely operating at a $100,000 annual shortfall, said Peter Newman, vice president of the shelter’s foundation.
“Chez Doris is lacking what we call recurrent funding,” Newman told CBC Daybreak host Mike Finnerty.
He said that the demands of the shelter’s clientele have risen over the years, requiring more resources like counselling. Newman said that some of the shelter’s costs have risen by as much as 50 per cent over the past seven years.
Listen to the Daybreak interview here (mobile users, click here):
“But the reality of our budget has been that over the past seven years, we’ve seen an average annual increase in our budget of just under one half of one percent,” Newman said.
That means that 60 to 80 women who would otherwise be taken into the shelter during the weekend will now likely be out in the street.
"There's no other women's day centre so, unfortunately, we will see a lot more women on the street," said Tania Filipponi, the shelter's director of services.
Many of the women who use the shelter are in precarious financial situations and are sometimes victims of domestic abuse.
Carol Cobb has been going to Chez Doris every day for 20 years to use some of its services.
"How about this? When you haven't got a home to make that meal, it's not just a matter of being strapped for cash — you're living on the sidewalk," Cobb said.
Newman said part of the issue is that many of the donors who give money to Chez Doris earmark their money for certain projects.
For example, the shelter runs a financial trustee service for women who need help organizing their finances, and it operates Monday to Friday. If donors give money specifically for this program, it means that other programs don’t necessarily get the funding they need to remain operational.
Newman called them designated funds. He said any donations are welcome, even if they are designated, but it would help the shelter tremendously if donors were more flexible on which programs their money went to funding.