Purchase of Fulford Residence allows Montreal women’s shelter to expand capacity, services

“This house has a history of helping women.” The Chez Doris women’s shelter purchased the Fulford Residence to expand its capacity and services. Johanie Bouffard reports.

A Montreal women’s shelter has acquired a historic residence downtown, ensuring a future for both the landmark and the marginalized women it serves.

Chez Doris is the new owner of the Fulford Residence – a three-storey red brick building on Guy Street that has been a fixture there for 131 years.

“This house has a history of helping women who are in a precarious situation or are vulnerable or homeless, so it fits exactly with the mission of Chez Doris,” said Carole Croteau, president of the Chez Doris board.

“A lot of people are homeless, there are more drugs on the streets, so the problems with the women have been increasing. Our current day centre has become too small, so we need to increase the space to be able to serve the women better.”

Montreal’s Fulford Residence on Guy Street in May 2024. (Johanie Bouffard, CityNews)

The Fulford Residence, a former residence for elderly women, has been sitting empty for nearly three years. It’s a perfect fit for a shelter that needed to expand.

“We need more space for almost two years,” said Chez Doris executive director Diane Pilote. “We split our team and services because the number of women who needs our help is increasing very rapidly and still going up.”

Plans are underway to add 20 transitional housing units for increased capacity; the new residence is expected to accommodate 100 women at once – up from 65. There are also plans to consolidate and expand services.

Chez Doris says it all demonstrates a commitment to empowering women in need.

Chez Doris women’s shelter in Montreal in May 2024. (Johanie Bouffard, CityNews)

“It helps women because we have our housed and unhoused women all under one roof for lunches and for some of our activities, and it gives them a chance to really just touch in with each other and share their experiences,” said activity animator Elissa Baltzer.

“I get feedback from clients at different points that the things that they’re doing here and the activities and the services that they receive from Chez Doris at large really make a huge difference in their life and that they’re just really grateful to have these services.

“And that’s huge, that’s really the most important part of this job.”

The plan is for the first women to enter the Fulford Residence by 2027, which would coincide with Chez Doris’ 50th anniversary.

Van belonging to the Chez Doris women’s shelter in Montreal in May 2024. (Johanie Bouffard, CityNews)

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