Old Brewery Mission sets up extra beds as Montreal deep freeze sets in

Montreal's Old Brewery Mission is prepared to help the city's homeless, as January temperatures tumble below freezing.

Shelter is taking part in a 5-year plan to get 2,000 homeless off city streets

The I Count MTL survey counted 3,016 homeless people on the streets of Montreal last March. (CBC)

Montreal's Old Brewery Mission is prepared to help the city's homeless, as January temperatures tumble below freezing.

"Homelessness is a 12-month a year phenomena, but when it starts to hit the deep cold, such as the kind they're announcing in the next couple days, we have to make sure that all systems are go," said Matthew Pearce, director general of The Old Brewery Mission.

"No one is left outdoors," is how Pearce sums up the shelter's approach to Montreal's frigid winters.

To ensure nobody is turned away, the Old Brewery Mission will set up extra beds on the floors of its kitchen and meeting rooms.  

"No matter how full we are at the Old Brewery Mission, we will allow people in," Pearce said.

They also operate a shuttle bus that picks up the homeless outside the Bonaventure metro station, so those sleeping in the metro have a place to go after it closes.

"The metro is very concerned about at closing hours having to tell people to get out of the metro and feeling very bad about that," Pearce said.

Pearce adds that it's fundamental to the mission that anybody is given shelter "day or night."

Montreal police have also asked that anyone who sees a homeless person out in the cold to call 911.

The Movement to End Homeless in Montreal coalition  

The Old Brewery Mission says The Movement to End Homeless in Montreal — a coalition that includes the City of Montreal, police and shelters — is already having an impact

The shelter is taking part in the city-wide initiative that aims to get two thousand people into more stable housing including the hiring more case workers and establishment of three new intake centres.

Pearce says it's already making a difference. 

"We've seen people here for decades, people who are part of the landscape of the mission and they're no longer here, they're now in housing and that is a huge victory for us," Pearce said.