Montreal provides shelter options for homeless people, with or without COVID-19

·1 min read

A second Montreal hotel has agreed to open its doors to the city's homeless population, as long as they test negative for COVID-19.

Along with Hotel Place Dupuis, Hotel Universel in Montreal's east end has been designated as an additional place for people to shelter.

Because of concerns over social distancing, Montreal public health has ordered some of the city's warming shelters to close temporarily.

This means alternative space is opening up at hotels, and the Old Royal Victoria hospital has expanded it's COVID-19 red zone from 25 beds to 100.

People who are homeless staying at the Old Royal Vic who recover from COVID are being transferred to private rooms at Hotel Universel, which is currently housing 40 people.

"Self-isolating is a privilege," said Nakuset, executive director of the Native Women's Shelter of Montreal.

She told CBC that there have been issues with contact tracing for people in the homeless community who do test positive.

"People are scrambling right now because we're not equipped to be red zones. We're not equipped to manage the COVID-positive cases," she said.

For Sam Watts, CEO of the Welcome Hall Mission, the new beds come at a crucial time.

"It was the right thing to do in order to make sure we could have as many spaces [as possible] in the event that we were seeing more positive cases," he said.

He said if the demand increases, there's a possibility of expanding the number of rooms offered.

"We have to try and make sure nobody has to be on the street. I think it's a bad idea if people don't have a place to go to self-isolate."