The Maison du Père has been an active presence among the homeless in Greater Montréal for the past 45 years. Over those many years, it has developed undeniable expertise in providing suitable support for homeless men. Indeed, much more than a shelter where men can eat and sleep, the Maison offers¾to those who want it¾the necessary help to get off the street, as well as social support services or temporary assistance to prevent them from finding themselves back on the street.
It is difficult to reach a consensus on exactly how many homeless people there are in Montréal. However, whether they number 5,000 or 30,000, the current situation of the homeless population is worrisome. Many of them present multiple issues: problems related to physical and/or mental health, addictions to gambling, alcohol or drugs, making the task of our front-line staff increasingly complex. Our team of 105 employees is consequently hard at work every day seeking, with patience and perseverance, solutions that will improve the men’s well-being and help them return to a more normal life.
We ask a lot of these men who find themselves in need, both physically and emotionally. Their personal networks have often fallen apart, and their inner resources have to be rebuilt. It’s hard to regain your self-esteem when you’re out on the street. Our teams know how to manage and have developed an extensive network of referrals for finding the best solution. They can rely on the support of partners from various professional milieus that help them establish best practices for dealing with the challenges facing them.
However, they need tools and services better suited to the users’ circumstances. If it’s not easy for ordinary people to access Québec’s health network, imagine what it’s like for homeless men. It is therefore up to us to see that the rights of these men are duly respected.
We receive government assistance that allows us to provide emergency housing. Our social reintegration programs depend on public donations, however. As well, through the generosity of our financial partners, we have been able introduce an innovative community health care service, including a convalescent wing. It is also thanks to their support that we have been able to add new housing units for men in the social reintegration program. Without these donations, we could only meet the most basic needs of homeless men and ensure their safety and security, one night at a time. Our donors’ support affords the hope of a recovery, a reorganization, a new start.
We also put a great deal of energy into prevention. Catching “drop-outs from life” right at the beginning, getting them before their lives fall completely apart. That’s the full meaning of our mission: Every street should have an exit.
To all those who find the cause of homelessness perplexing, to say the least, I extend an invitation to visit the Maison du Père. You will be pleasantly surprised by the work that goes on there.