Quebec City homeless shelter must close due to lack of funding

Every year, the Salvation Army in Old Quebec runs a deficit of about $650,000, and it can no longer afford to stay open, providing emergency beds and other services.

The Salvation Army shelter will close in July unless the province steps in with funding

The two Salvation Army homeless shelters in Quebec City will have to close their doors in July, because the organization can no longer afford to provide services at its Old Quebec location. (Nicole Germain/Radio-Canada)

One of Quebec City's largest homeless shelters will be forced to close its doors in July because administrators can no longer afford to keep it operational.

The Salvation Army Quebec division runs two shelters in the city, L'Hôtellerie pour hommes and La Maison Charlotte. Together, these two shelters provide 60 beds for men and 18 for women.

Despite a need for these beds, the Salvation Army in Old Quebec runs a deficit of about $650,000 annually, and it can no longer afford to stay open.

"We just can't afford it anymore, we're basically losing money every year," said Brigitte Saint-Germain, the director of public relations for the Salvation Army Quebec division.

"The need is there, the willingness of the Army is there. We have been around in Quebec City for over 100 years and we want to continue the mission," she said.

The organization is not eligible for funding from the province because it doesn't have a board of directors in Quebec. It's an international organization with a head office in England and a board of directors in Toronto.

If no funding can be secured, Saint-Germain said, the shelters will close July 31.

That will cut the number of available beds in the city by almost half. Beyond temporary housing, the organization also provides food and other services to people, like support getting back into the workforce.

Some of the Salvation Army's local staff have been with the organization for more than 15 years, and Saint-Germain said many were "in shock" to hear the shelter will close.

"It's very hard for us to come to this conclusion, because the mission of the Salvation Army comes from the heart," she said. "It's heartbreaking."

Saint-Germain said she's seen an increase in clients in recent years, and the shelter is often full to capacity, especially in the winter.

Her team has been working with management at L'Auberivière, Quebec City's other large shelter, to find longer-term solutions for people.

Lauberivière shelter general manager Eric Boulay told Radio-Canada he is concerned the Salvation Army closing will increase the pressure on his organization to provide beds and services to the city's homeless population. (Nicole Germain/Radio-Canada)

Eric Boulay, the general manager of L'Auberivière, agrees there has been an increased need for shelter beds in the city.

He told Radio-Canada he's concerned about the demand on L'Auberivière if the Salvation Army closes.

"The Quebec City shelters are already often at capacity and have to turn people away due to lack of space," he said. "My primary concern is for the people who sometimes have to sleep on the street."

With files from Julia Page, Breakaway, and Radio-Canada