Royal Victoria homeless shelter opens for second year

For the second straight year, an overflow shelter for the homeless opened at the site of the former Royal Victoria Hospital.

The homeless population will be able to escape frigid winter cold at the shelter, which opened on Monday.

Three of the city's homeless shelters are working together to offer services at the Royal Victoria location, Old Brewery Mission President and CEO Matthew Pearce told the Canadian Press on Sunday. His organization will work alongside the Welcome Hall Mission, Maison du Pere and Accueil Bonneau.

But Pearce said the shelter was only a temporary fix to the city's homelessness problem.

"Shelters are Band-Aids on a problem, not a solution. Supported housing, helping people get back into society- there's a solution," he said on Monday. He added that the shelter would accept everyone--including pets and addicts who are actively using drugs.

The shelter is opening a month earlier than it did last year. More beds are also available: last year, there were 82; this year, there are 150.

Women will also be offered beds, but on a different floor.

Pearce said women make up around 25 per cent of Montreal's shelter population. The OBM helps around 3,500 homeless per year, including 545 women.

Shuttle service to the shelter will also be offered. Last year the shuttle made 13,000 trips from the downtown area to emergency accommodations. 

A heated space in the St-Michael Mission supervised by outreach workers will also be opened to homeless men and women, as well as their pets.  

With files from CTV News Montreal's Scott Prouse and The Canadian Press