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eV Kd One more bed free in the shelters at 9 p.m. - The Times Hub

One more bed free in the shelters at 9 p.m.

One more bed free in the shelters at 9 p.m.

The newspaper spent an evening roaming the streets of Montreal with a worker who accompanies homeless people in their search for emergency shelter. A few hours aboard the shuttle were enough to realize that it was almost impossible to find a bed after the 8 p.m. curfew.

The work of Maude Viau, psychosocial worker, boils down to solving a puzzle involving several homeless people who need shelter and a limited number of places in shelters as well as heat stops.

Mme Viau has welcomed The newspaper Wednesday night aboard the Old Brewery Mission shuttle. She was called to all corners of town to transport people in search of a place to stay the night.

“They call me Maude de la Navette, it has become my last name”, jokes the young woman. His cell phone rings continuously from 6 p.m.

Captain of the 24-seater minibus since mid-December, she plays the roles of taxi dispatcher, logistics expert, first responder, co-pilot, teaser or confidante as needed.

From the top of her 22 years, she exudes the assurance of one who has known the street, and who has decided to return to do her part.

When we joined her shortly before 7 p.m., the worker was taking stock and filling up on caffeine to prepare for the evening that awaited her.

One more bed free in the shelters at 9 p.m.

Photo Martin Alarie

Jean-Pierre Kamgang is in charge of the minibus.

State of play: Wednesday, 1,366 out of 1,650 emergency accommodation places are available in refuges and heat stops in the metropolis.

Despite the addition of new stops, the creation of “temporary overflow units” and the requisition of rooms at the Place Dupuis hotel, the supply is not sufficient to meet the demand of the 3,100 homeless people identified in 2018 .

COVID-19 is doubly responsible: physical distancing has reduced nearly 50% of the reception capacity of several of Montreal’s major shelters. The recent outbreaks have forced the suspension of admissions or the temporary closure of some resources.

Since December, 192 homeless people and 82 workers have been tested positive, according to the Direction régionale de santé publique de Montréal.

This is without counting the curfew, which came into effect on January 9.

“The places fill up much faster, everyone hurries for fear of being on the street after 8 pm,” says Mila Alexova, night supervisor at the Old Brewery Mission.

Despite the assurances of tolerance from the Montreal police, many fear receiving a statement of offense that they will never be able to pay.

Through these disturbances, the mission of the organization’s shuttle remains the same: to respond to distress and emergency situations.

The great departure

One more bed free in the shelters at 9 p.m.

Photo Martin Alarie

With a bag for only luggage, Francisco Gutiérrez Hernandez spent the night in a heat stop.

Our first passenger is Francisco Gutiérrez Hernandez, a refugee accustomed to the heat of Mexico, who waits at the door of the minibus by -20 ° C of temperature felt.

After trying his luck at the Bon Accueil Mission, which suspended his admissions for a few days, he agreed to spend the night in a heat stop in Côte-des-Neiges, where he had never set foot.

“I’m off the hook,” Maude laments in advance.

One more bed free in the shelters at 9 p.m.

Photo Martin Alarie

Maude Viau takes a moment to talk to each of her passengers.

Last Monday, the worker even had to resign himself to dropping off two homeless passengers in a shelter in Longueuil, because there was not a single place left on the island after midnight.

During this time, the minibus sets off towards the Red Roof day center, next to Place-des-Arts station, where three men embark who will receive a welcome mask and wrap.

Also women’s shelters

A call from L’Abri d’Espoir, a women’s shelter, interrupts the conversation.

“Is she warm? Yes ? Perfect, we’ll be there in an hour, ”confirms Maude, noting the details.

One more bed free in the shelters at 9 p.m.

Photo Martin Alarie

The Women’s Pavilion at the Old Brewery Mission is already full by 7:45 p.m.

The shuttle stops in front of the Patricia McKenzie Women’s Lodge at the Old Brewery Mission, located downtown. Fifteen minutes before the curfew, there is not a place left out of the 40. A woman goes on board.

Times are particularly difficult for those who are homeless, our guide notes.

Even after fleeing domestic violence, they sometimes have to turn to mixed shelters, anything but ideal under these circumstances.

It is 8 p.m. when the lady is dropped off at the Place Dupuis hotel, where there are only six free beds out of 380.

The curfew falls. We are now heading towards the Côte-des-Neiges heat stop on a deserted Autoroute 15.

Upon arrival, Maude slides a chocolate to each of “her guys”, smokes a cigarette while joking with them and makes sure they are well received.

We leave. This time, it’s the Welcome Hall Mission on the phone. “How is the person dressed?” Have her wait for us at the Lucien-L’Allier metro station. “

One more bed free in the shelters at 9 p.m.

Photo Martin Alarie

Maude Viau will receive around 40 calls during the evening.

there are no more beds …

At 9 p.m., all the beds in Montreal shelters are occupied.

There are still a few places in the heat stop, agrees Maude.

“But a heat stop is a break, not a night’s sleep. ”

While some are equipped with mattresses, others only have Adirondack chairs.

The shuttle stops in front of The Open Door, an organism that Raphael André, found dead in a chemical toilet a few meters away, used to frequent.

Maude greets an aboriginal homeless person before going to meet the workers at the heat stop closed at night.

It comes out, and the man is no longer there.

The young woman climbs into the minibus before getting out a few seconds later, suddenly in doubt.

She hurries to the portable toilet where the Innu died four days earlier. She opens the door. Nobody.

“I can’t believe the toilet is still there,” she rages, disgusted by this lack of compassion.

One more bed free in the shelters at 9 p.m.

Photo Martin Alarie

The worker goes around the subways to make sure no one is left behind.

Right on the floor

In the meantime, Mathieu got on board.

The grizzled man slept badly the day before, on the floor of the heated tent on Place Émilie-Gamelin, under the neon lights and the gaze of security guards.

“It was not hot,” he sums up before tilting his seat to recover a few precious minutes of sleep.

He barely opens his eye when we stop in front of L’Abri d’Espoir, where a young woman climbs aboard with bags packed to the brim, probably filled in the rush to flee.

One more bed free in the shelters at 9 p.m.

Photo Martin Alarie

Two people were waiting for the shuttle inside the Lucien-L’Allier station.

Maude then gets off at Lucien-L’Allier metro station. Tonight, the docks are empty, says the teller, even though he called emergency services earlier for an overdose.

Two more people get on board.

We drop off the young woman at the destination and return to the busiest sidewalk in town during curfew: the one in front of the Place Dupuis hotel, where a dozen people walk around or smoke.

One more bed free in the shelters at 9 p.m.

Photo Martin Alarie

Maude Viau makes sure that a woman is welcomed at the shelter.

The night will be short

Six men board the shuttle, which will drop them off at the Côte-des-Neiges heat stop, soon at full capacity.

“There is a downside, I’m telling you, it closes at 6 am,” Maude warns them.

They will arrive around midnight and will only get five hours of sleep before being taken back to a day center.

“As long as we sleep!” Raymond shouts from the back of the bus, before singing in a hoarse voice the first notes of If god exists, by Claude Dubois.

In front of this improvised concert, Maude, who has not lost any of her enthusiasm, exclaims: “We should leave a tour bus!” “

The newspaper leaves her around 11:30 p.m., but her shift ends around 2 a.m.

“As long as there are people on our way who have no place to sleep, excuse me, but I’m not going to sleep,” she insists.

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