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Full almost every night, the West Island's only homeless shelter needs funding

Article et photo de CTV News Montreal. Lire l'article en ligne

In his 60s, Mike McGillis was homeless and desperate, at one point considering breaking the law to go to prison rather than live on the streets. "I could not stay outside, I would've died," McGillis recounted to CTV News.

But things took a turn for the better after the West Island's only homeless shelter took him in: "They provide me a home, shelter, food."

Tania Charron is the general director of the Ricochet shelter. She says McGillis' story is one of many. "People who have lost their life partners, we have young women who don't know where to go because they've been through toxic relationships," she listed.

The Pierrefonds shelter has room for 50 men and women. When it's full, which is almost nightly, clients are driven to other shelters in Montreal so they won't have to sleep outside.

Benoit Langevin of Ensemble Montreal was one of the first to raise the red flag that homelessness exists in the West Island. "In the West Island, we're one shelter. There's nothing between here and Saint-Henri and there's nothing between here and Villeray," he explained. He says the need for this kind of safety net is more important than ever as the housing crisis worsens.

But getting the funding for a service like Ricochet's is complicated, says Charron. "The city says "go ask the province, go ask Quebec.' The province says 'we're waiting for Canada,'" she explained.

Langevin, who is a Pierrefonds-Roxboro city councillor, says something has to give. "It could be your brother, it could be your sister, could be somebody really close to you and your family," he said. "We have to do more, we just have to do more. And that's what I've been saying for the past six years at City Hall."

The shelter relies heavily on fundraising events to keep up with costs. Its annual casino and poker night fundraiser takes place in March.


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