During a recent press conference held in the Chez Doris women’s shelter, executive director Marina Boulos-Winton joined Peter-McGill City Councillor Cathy Wong to announce that the shelter is now planning to open a new facility that will provide emergency overnight accommodation for up to 22 homeless women — many of whom call the downtown core’s Cabot Square “home.”
“By late next year, the new facility will allow us to provide both a bed and shelter for up to 22 homeless women per night, “said Boulos-Winton. “And that’s a huge relief for us.”
According to Boulos-Winton, the new facility will become a welcome addition for women’s services in the city’s downtown core because even if women account for up to 25% of the city’s 3,000 (and counting) homeless, they only receive 10 to 15% of the available services for the city’s homeless.
“Security is the big issue,” said Boulos-Winton. “because the streets are always a dangerous place for vulnerable women.”
Following further questions about the new shelter, Boulos-Winton also mentioned that it’s far more “about security,” than it is a women’s issue because life on the streets is always far more dangerous for poor and destitute women than it is for homeless men.
“As women are not welcome in most of the city’s shelters, finding a bed is never easy for women who have no place to go for the night,” she said.
After money from last year’s million dollar donation was used to buy the centre’s new shelter, Boulos-Winton told the media that Councillor Wong led the initiative to have the zoning changed so the new shelter could accommodate homeless women in the downtown core. However, as the building requires some serious renovation, Boulos-Winton is presently working to secure another $2.1 million in private and public funding to renovate and prepare the new facility in time for next year. As the centre also owns another building that’s being used to provide permanent homes for the homeless, the centre now has three service outlets to provide services for some of the most vulnerable people in the city.
As the announcement for the new centre comes only a day after the Montreal Native Women’s Shelter announced that they too would be opening a new day center near Cabot Square, Boulos-Winton said the two centers would provide complimentary services that were badly needed in the area following the closing of the Good Shepherd mission that used to provide urgently-needed day services (including showers and meals) in and around Cabot Square park.