Hotel Place Dupuis will become home to 380-bed homeless shelter for winter

The City of Montreal is set to take over a downtown hotel to house hundreds of homeless people this winter, creating the city's bigger shelter by far, CTV has confirmed.

On Thursday, the conversion of Hotel Place Dupuis will be formally announced. The hotel will get funding in order to give over its rooms until March 31 and will be run by the Welcome Hall Mission.

"We're looking as we open up to start with a couple of hundred people that we can accommodate but the facility itself will go up to about 380, depending on what the demand is," said Welcome Hall Mission CEO Sam Watts. 

The plan, according to a source who has been working on the file, is to put dividers in each of its rooms and therefore house two people per room.

That will create spots for 380 homeless Montrealers. 

By comparison, the Macaulay men's shelter at the Welcome Hall Mission has 110 spots, the old Royal Victoria Hospital, which has been in use since last winter, can house 175, and other shelters are significantly smaller.

The hotel's public funding will come from the local health authority. 

The announcement, slated for Thursday at 1 p.m., will include other new plans for winter resources for the homeless. 

Earlier this year, when COVID-19 first hit Canada, Toronto leased hotels to provide emergency housing for homeless Torontonians as well.

Watts said there will be two goals for the new shelter: keeping people safe from the cold and limiting the spread of COVID-19 among the homeless population. 

"It's going to be available to men, women, people who are transgender, as well as accompanying animals," said Watts. "We're making sure, as best we can, to accommodate everyone we can so nobody has to stay outside."

Watts said the solution is a temporary one and the ongoing pandemic is highlighting the need for permanent housing.

"More people are talking about it," he said. "Governments are starting to align their efforts and I'm optimistic. I think we're actually going to be able to do something about this in the very near term."

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