How a new online tracking tool seeks to end homelessness in Montreal

A new online tool tracks how many people living in the streets and in shelters are finding homes in the city of Montreal, with the goal of ending homelessness in the city by 2020.

Website offers information on age, gender, stability of those helped to get off streets, out of shelters

A new online platform shows in real time how many people living on the streets are finding housing in the city of Montreal. The group behind the platform, MMFIM, wants to house 2,000 homeless people by 2020. (Dillon Hodgin/CBC)

A new online tool tracks how many homeless people are getting housed in the city of Montreal in real time, with the aim of finding homes for 2,000 people by 2020.

2000Solutions, launched Wednesday, was created by the Mouvement pour mettre fin à l'itinérance à Montréal (MMFIM), a group dedicated to ending homelessness in the city.

It's accessible to the public and includes all sorts of demographic information and data, including the ages of people who are finding housing, how long they've been housed and how stable their situations are, as well as their level of social inclusion.

"The first message is that, yes, there are solutions to homelessness and even chronic homelessness. It means putting the right resources at the right spots, but it's possible, and it's perfectly feasible to reach the goal," said James McGregor, MMFIM's executive director.  

The idea behind the site is to offer more information about who is homeless in order to help end the problem. The project was financed by the federal government, the city of Montreal and the CIUSSS du Centre-Sud-de-l'Île-de-Montréal.​
The 2000Solutions website, launched Wednesday, is an online platform that offers a real-time snapshot of how many homeless people in Montreal have found housing. (MMFIM)

Housing first 

MMFIM picked the goal of housing 2,000 people after a count on the night of March 24, 2015 indicated there were an estimated 3,016 people living on the streets in the city at that time.

The group is working on a "housing first" approach, which means first finding a person a place to live and then offering whatever support is needed — whether it's addiction or mental health treatment or other kinds of social services.

Some organizations criticize the approach, suggesting it only focuses on people who are chronically homeless and fails to prevent homelessness among people at risk.

But McGregor says that the "housing first" approach works.

"It's a little counterintuitive, compared to the old ways of doing things, because we take people who accept they'll be monitored, and we offer a place to stay right away, without conditions, without judgment," he said. 

With files from Radio-Canada