Cabot Square warming tent for homeless people to remain until May 17

The warming tent for people without homes in downtown Montreal’s Cabot Square will remain until at least May 17, after which the city says it will need to come down.

It’s the third time the city has extended the deadline for the tent, which provides after-curfew shelter to close to 700 homeless people per week.

“It’s a community in and of itself,” said Mary Martin-Goodleaf, one of the tent’s fundraisers. “It’s become a safe haven.”

After curfew, she says, “everyone else has a place to go … We have forgotten people who are out on the street.”

As the closure date looms, advocates say a long-term housing solution is needed fast.

"To think it can all shut like a board game is disappointing,” said Seneca Kirby, who works at the tent, which is named after Raphael Andre, a homeless Montrealer who froze to death last winter when the curfew kept him from getting into a shelter.

While the tent offers needed shelter, advocates say it’s far from a complete solution for a homeless population that has more than doubled since the pandemic began, according to some estimates.

“I don't know what the final plan will look like, but certainly there'll have to be more homeless resources because there are a lot more people that find themselves homeless," said David Chapman, project coordinator at Resilience Montreal, a shelter that provides staff and programming at the tent.

Some are calling for a brand-new centre for homeless people, “and we want to call it the Raphael Andre Memorial Shelter,” said Nakuset, director of the Native Women’s Shelter.

Nakuset says she plans to continue asking the city for more extensions for the tent to remain at Cabot Square.

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