Construction is underway at Sainte-Jeanne-d'Arc Church in Montreal's Mercier–Hochelaga-Maisonneuve borough as it prepares to take in people experiencing homelessness who have been staying at the Auberge Royal Versailles hotel.
The hotel, located in the Longue-Pointe district of the borough, was established as a temporary emergency shelter last summer to deal with the increased demand in the area.
Residents of the facility will be moved to the church at the other end of the borough by the end of the month.
Michel Monette, executive director of CARE Montreal, which manages the shelter, says this is good news.
"We've been looking for a space to relocate our users since day one in Versailles," he said, explaining the location and building weren't a great fit.
"Not that we don't like the space, it's because it's first, too far, and second, it was not really the best way to operate the shelter."
The new shelter in the church will have 70 beds — down from 120 at the hotel — and will be open for at least the next 12 months as of April 30, the city of Montreal announced in a news release Friday.
Monette said the new location will operate better as a shelter, with a common space for activities.
The city did not explain why the shelter at the hotel was closing, although some residents in the neighbourhood had previously called for its relocation, citing concerns about safety and cleanliness.
The city and CARE Montreal had been looking for "a more suitable place" for the shelter for months, according to the release.
Lionel Carmant, Quebec's junior minister for health and social services, emphasized the "exceptional commitment" of the teams who worked together to make the move possible.
"The needs are great, and I am satisfied with the efforts made by all the partners to concretely help the people who need it the most," he is quoted saying in the release.
Monette says while the move is welcome, it will add to a city-wide shortage of beds for people experiencing homelessness. He says a long-term solution is needed.
"These people deserve and need apartments, and they are now stuck in our shelters everywhere," he said.
"It's not because they are bad people, it's because there are no apartments for them."