Old Royal Victoria Hospital opens for second consecutive year as temporary homeless shelter

For the second consecutive year, the Ross Pavilion of the old Royal Victoria Hospital is opening its doors as a temporary shelter for Montreal’s homeless.

The overnight shelter is available between Dec. 2, 2019 and March 31, 2020.

There are 150 beds available, up from  80 last year.

Of those, 100 are reserved for men on the third floor and 50 for women on the fifth floor.

The hospital has been leased for the next two winters.

“I hope that by the time we get past the end of 2021 we will find ourselves in a situation where we’re actually responding to the needs of people who find themselves homeless and get back into housing as soon as possible,” Sam Watts, CEO of the Welcome Hall Mission, told Global News.

Watts is spearheading the project to help keep the homeless off the streets during cold winter nights.

The shelter is only available to the homeless once Montreal’s permanent ones fill to capacity — a problem that occurs far too often.

“We had up to 65 people who were staying in our cafeteria overnight and it’s not a proper way to host someone in these services,” said Matthew Pearce CEO of the Old Brewery Mission.

“It’s not a humane way to provide an overnight place for someone to be, but it’s better than being outside in the snow.”

Montreal officials say this overflow shelter is temporary until permanent housing can be found for the city’s most vulnerable.

But reaching that goal won’t be easy.

“We can’t change things over two years. It’s a long-term plan,” Rossanie Filato, a member of Montreal’s Executive Committee, told Global News.

The service is available nightly starting at 9:00 p.m.

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