Homelessness for women | A little peace of mind to get through the crisis

When she was hit by a car five years ago, an accident that sent her to the hospital for almost a year, Lyne Saint-Denis had no idea that her life would completely change and that she would end up in a shelter for homeless women.




A succession of misfortunes – loss of her job, loss of her housing, loss of her SAAQ benefits – led the 64-year-old woman to the emergency shelter for women at the Old Brewery Mission, at the Patricia Mackenzie Pavilion, the last year.

Mme Saint-Denis is not complaining. On the contrary, she is grateful to be accommodated in this place, while many women are refused because of the lack of places.

PHOTO ALAIN ROBERGE, THE PRESS

At the Patricia Mackenzie Pavilion, the 26-bed dormitory was recently replaced by small rooms where two residents live together.

Female homelessness is increasing exponentially. In 2021, the Old Brewery Mission shelter had to refuse 80 women per month for lack of places, or 950 refusals for the year. In 2023, the number of monthly refusals reached 203, or 2432 for the year.

No more dormitories

Lyne Saint-Denis was lucky enough to arrive on site while the organization was in the process of renovating the space to replace the large dormitory with 26 bunk beds with small rooms where two residents live together, a project costing $300,000.

PHOTO ALAIN ROBERGE, THE PRESS

Lyne Saint-Denis

It’s not a five-star hotel, you have to be tolerant to live here, there are all kinds of people. But when I look at the price of housing, it’s unbelievable how expensive it is.

Lyne Saint-Denis, resident of Patricia Mackenzie Pavilion

During our visit, everything is calm. Residents are in their small room, sleeping or washing. Some meet in front of the building decorated with flower motifs, to smoke and enjoy the good weather while waiting for the meal.

PHOTO ALAIN ROBERGE, THE PRESS

The Patricia Mackenzie pavilion, of the Old Brewery Mission, on De Maisonneuve Boulevard East, in the Village

The atmosphere was completely different before, when the place was open-plan, testifies Élysabeth Garant, clinical coordinator of the women’s service at the Old Brewery Mission: less privacy, more tension, more conflicts when a resident disturbed the others.

PHOTO ALAIN ROBERGE, THE PRESS

Élysabeth Garant, clinical coordinator of women’s services at the Old Brewery Mission

You have to put yourself in the place of a person who arrives here for the first time. It’s a shock and it can be traumatic. We remain an emergency shelter, but we offer a little more comfort.

Élysabeth Garant, clinical coordinator of women’s services at the Old Brewery Mission

A locked locker, a door that can be closed, a space of one’s own… These small details can make a big difference in comforting women who have found themselves on the street, she says.

PHOTO ALAIN ROBERGE, THE PRESS

Smaller rooms offer more privacy and quiet than the large dormitory they replace.

Last resort

More and more, the shelter welcomes women who are experiencing homelessness for the first time, like Lyne Saint-Denis, notes Élysabeth Garant. These women stay approximately six months in this resource, where they pay a pension of $200 to $300 per month.

PHOTO ALAIN ROBERGE, THE PRESS

Élysabeth Garant, clinical coordinator of the women’s service at the Old Brewery Mission, and Marie-Pier Therrien, director of communications for the organization

“The women who come here have generally exhausted all their recourses,” adds Marie-Pier Therrien, director of communications for the Old Brewery Mission. “Some may have been staying with someone, a situation which can lead to exploitation and violence. »

The goal is that they can then obtain their own accommodation, either in an HLM, or in a project with supervision, or in shared accommodation. Some can stay for a certain time in a single or shared room on 4e floor of Pavillon Mackenzie, where a common kitchen allows the 10 residents to cook for themselves.

PHOTO ALAIN ROBERGE, THE PRESS

A single room in the Patricia Mackenzie Pavilion

For women experiencing mental health problems, rooms with services from a social worker and a psychiatrist are available on 3e floor.

“The goal is that there is always a team that follows them when they leave (the shelter), so that the rest goes well and that they do not fall back onto the street again,” says M.me Guarantor.

Lyne Saint-Denis wants one thing above all: a small kitchen of her own where she can start cooking for herself again. “I love cooking and I miss it,” she confides. With the old age pension that she will be able to receive in a few months, she hopes to be able to pay rent, while continuing to volunteer.


reference: www.lapresse.ca

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