New Chez Doris night shelter for Montreal women

“Homelessness has doubled since the pandemic,” says executive director of Chez Doris Marina Boulos-Winton about the need for the new 24hr night shelter in downtown Montreal for vulnerable women. Brittany Henriques reports.

By News Staff

Chez Doris inaugurated its new night shelter for women in downtown Montreal on Thursday. The shelter, on Chomedey street, will provide a safe and healthy space for vulnerable and homeless women 24 hours a day.

“As a caseworker…thing I see is those cubicles that they are going to sleep in. It provides some type of intimacy It provides them with a safe place that they won’t have eyes on them. They will be able to have regain some kind of dignity,” said Clara Seidenberg, case worker, Chez Doris.

“It’s also something more stable because once they arrive here, they’re going to be able to stay for 30 days at a time. So, during those 30 days, they won’t have to question where am I going to sleep tonight?”

Chez Doris offers services and programs to provide for women’s most basic and immediate needs related to coping with homelessness, poverty, mental illness and/or addictions. The new night shelter also has access for pets and Wi-Fi.

It is the only women’s day shelter in Montreal open 7 days a week, 24 hours a day.

They say the shelter has seen more than 1,600 woman without a fixed address in the last two years, and it’s continuing to see a steady increase of women in need.

“Homelessness has doubled since the pandemic. It became also much more visible – quite a few women who are newly homeless. We saw the [2SLGBTQ+] community being affected – as much as 10 per cent of our clientele was transgender,” said Marina Boulos-Winton, executive director of Chez Doris. “We had to become a 24 hour service because the needs were too great.”

This past year, Chez Doris served over 1,500 women and a total of 41,539 meals.

Services include breakfast, lunch and supper; access to showers, hygienic products, and a clothing depot; emergency food bags; respite beds; telephone information and referral assistance; a financial management program; an Inuit assistance program; a housing assistance program; health and mental health services; legal and tax filing services; as well as educational and socio-recreational integration programs.

“We have the ability to accept 24 across the street we are refusing five to 12 a day and we take maybe five on average of five more than we should,” said Boulos-Winston.

The new night shelter officially opens its doors to women in need on Sept. 19. The day shelter will cease night shift operations and continue with their original services.

“We envision ourselves, or hope to envision ourselves, is to give a holistic services or a continuum of services to help vulnerable women resolve the problems that are impeding them into having a better quality of life. So, for instance, we offer medical services, psychiatric services, psychologists, massage therapy, art therapy, all sorts of social recreational activities,” explained Boulos-Winton. “We also offer housing support and assistance. So we help women find apartments. We help them even furnish their apartments.”

Chez Doris is set to open a new permanent residence for women offering 26 affordable rental units with support services – the opening is scheduled for the spring of 2023.

(CREDIT: Brittany Henriques/CityNews)


“We also need to do some work on preventing homelessness. It’s not only about like helping the women who are currently homeless, it’s trying to prevent housed women to become homeless,” said Seidenberg.

“If only there could be more shelters for women opening more resources, not only shelters.”

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