Community groups show homelessness ‘beyond the numbers’

The RAPSIM says a head count of Quebec's homeless only goes so far in telling the story on the ground. Photo by Jules Bugiel.
Jules Bugiel - CKUT - MontrealQC | 29-09-2023
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Quebec is facing a growing homelessness crisis. Earlier this month, the province announced that a head count conducted last fall found 10,000 people who were “visibly” homeless. That’s almost double that of the last count in 2018.

But the RAPSIM, a coalition of Montreal-based groups fighting homelessness, say a head count every few years isn’t a reliable indicator of what’s happening on the ground.

As just one example, only three homeless people were counted in the West Island in 2018. Tania Charron is the director of Ricochet, the only shelter on the West Island. She says they accept 35 people a night and have to turn others away every day. In the last year, they've taken in over 400 people.

It's this disconnect that frustrates the RAPSIM's Catherine Marcoux.

"We don't need numbers," Marcoux says. "We need the governments to listen to the community organizations and to take action based on what we see on the ground."

That's why on Wednesday, they launched a review of over 30 organizations and advocates sharing their experiences. It paints a picture of homelessness that differs across the island and across demographic lines.

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