Montreal

Montreal will open its first wet shelter for city's homeless this spring

The Quebec government and the City of Montreal have teamed up to invest $5.45 million into resources for homeless people, including promising to open the city's first wet shelter.

The facility is slated to open by spring 2020; no location has been announced

There have been calls for the city to open a wet shelter to help homeless people dealing with addiction and substance abuse issues. (Michael Charles Cole/CBC)

The Quebec government and the City of Montreal have teamed up to invest $5.45 million into resources for homeless people, including promising to open the city's first wet shelter.

A wet shelter is a place where vulnerable people are allowed to consume alcohol under supervision. These kinds of shelters already exist in Ottawa and Toronto.

For years, advocates for the homeless have said too many people get turned away from shelters because they consume drugs or alcohol.

There have been repeated calls to close the gap in the existing system that keeps alcoholics and people struggling with addiction out of shelters and away from services designed to help them.

The investment, a large part of which is coming from the provincial health and social services ministry, will also finance a new shelter near Cabot square where a significant population of homeless people have been missing services since the Open Door had to move.

The $5.45 million will create a fund called the Réflexe Montréal en itinérance which will fund projects aimed at helping homeless people.

The fund will contribute $300,000 toward the already-announced Resilience Montreal wellness centre, slated to open at the corner Atwater Avenue and Ste-Catherine Street.

The majority of the funding announced on Friday ⁠— $3 million in all⁠ ⁠— will go toward the creation of the new wet shelter.

"It's been years that we've been asking for this kind of resource," said Nakuset, executive director of the Native Women's Shelter in Montreal. "Having a wet shelter will be so useful for us."

She added that she hopes the centre will be open 24 hours a day.

The wet shelter is slated to open by spring 2020, but no location has been announced.

With files from Radio-Canada's Laurence Niosi

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