Ottawa

Gatineau soup kitchen launches overnight pilot project to help the homeless

Hot soup, coffee and someone to lend an ear, that's what a Gatineau soup kitchen is offering as part of a three-month pilot project through the cold winter months.

Soupe Populaire de Hull will be open between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. for 3 months

People in need will be able to warm up and grab a bowl of soup anytime between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. during a new pilot project in Gatineau. (Michel Aspirot/CBC)

Hot soup, coffee and someone to lend an ear, that's what a Gatineau soup kitchen is offering as part of a three-month pilot project through the cold winter months.

Soupe Populaire de Hull is opening its doors at 297 Des Allumettieres Boulevard between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. until March 31 for people to step out of the cold to have a hot bowl of soup and a cup of coffee.

"The food is one of the tools we are using to get in touch with people and to connect with people," said Michel Kasongo, general director of Soupe Populaire de Hull. 

The centre expects to serve a maximum of 35 people a night and will have a social worker on hand to provide users information on physical and mental health clinics, employment services and shelters.

Not replacement for shelters

While the pilot project offers food and information, it won't have beds available. 

"We are not going to replace the traditional shelter," Kasongo said. 

He calls the pilot project a temporary solution to help people in the midst of a housing crisis and a shortage of shelter spaces.

The pilot project is a temporary emergency measure set up to offset the increase in the number of people who come to Gîte Ami, a local shelter.

Michel Kasongo with Soupe Populaire, left, and Lise Paradis with Gîte Ami were two of the people behind the pilot project that began on Dec. 21. ( Nathalie Bastien/Radio-Canada)

The drop-in centre also provides a level of freedom.

"They can come just to warm up and they have a coffee," Kasongo said. "They can go when they want. They can come back again."

The pilot project is expected to cost more than $50,000 and will be funded by the Centre integré de santé et services sociaux de l'Outaouais (CISSO).