Rob Robinson on the international fight for housing!

Rob Robinson is a homeless and housing rights activist based in Brooklyn, New York, and does national and international organizing work with the National Economic and Social Rights Initiative, NESRI. Rob was in Montreal last week for the World Social Forum and sat down with CKUT’s Aaron Lakoff for an in-depth discussion on gentrification, the global right to housing, and taking back the land.

Living on the Streets: Toronto vs MTL

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On March the 15th, the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty (OCAP) officially released its report Out in the Cold on the state of the Toronto shelter system . The study’s findings are based on numerous interviews with service users and workers. It points out to a shelter system in crisis, plagued by constant overcrowding, harsh living conditions and a city government unwilling to take action.

Source: OCAP report “Out in the Cold”

CKUT reporter Chloe interviewed one of the writers of this report for a summary of the OCAP’s findings. Some of the statistics are hard to believe. For instance, 81% of the people surveyed stated that they had been denied a shelter bed because the shelters were full (see the chart above)! Equally shocking, in most shelters occupancy levels exceeded 90% every night. This is highly problematic given that  overcrowded shelters lead to a high stress environment, a poor night’s rest and health issues. Luckily, OCAP volunteers and engaged citizens are taking action against this situation. Check out this video to get an idea of the scope of the protests happening in Toronto. 

Francois Boissy

To get a sense of the state of the shelter system in Montreal, we also interviewed Francois Boissy who is the director of operations at La Maison du Pere, one of the largest homeless shelters in the city. He points out some of the differences between the way the cities of Toronto and Montreal deal with their homeless populations.

Aside from the administrative aspect of the shelter systems of Toronto and Montreal, an important question remains: “how does it feel, for people on the ground, to experience the shelter system in both cities?” Michel, an ex-homeless man that lived on the streets for two years from 2009-2011, explained to our reporter his personal experience with Montreal shelters. In this fascinating interview he talks about the reasons why he became an itinerant in the first place, the different shelters he slept in,  food conditions and how shelter services helped him get out of the streets. We are truly grateful for his trust in sharing this story, the full interview is available for stream and download below.

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More More I want More!

  • For the history of the Toronto shelter system click here. 
  • Find a critical (but pretty short!) analysis of the Montreal shelter system here

Federal Engagements for Homeless people : On Bus Tour With The RAPSIM

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(Photo Credit : RAPSIM Website)

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With a little over one month to go before the Canadian federal elections, the major political parties are making big promises to their electorate.The RAPSIM (“Rapsim”),a homeless advocacy group in Montreal, has struggled with several years of cuts to their federal funding. On September 10th ,the RAPSIM, along with several other organizations who work with drug users and people who suffers from mental illness (La rue des femmes, Dopamine …) went on a bus tour in three major areas impacted by these issues in the city : Berri (at Emilie Gamelin’ Square), in Hochelaga and in Atwater, at Cabot Square. The aim of the tour was to meet 3 candidates in the upcoming election: Simon Marchand, the Bloc Quebecois’ candidate in Hochelaga; Marjolaine Boutin-Sweet, NPD’ candidate in Hochelaga and Marc Garneau, liberal’ candidate in VilleMarie. CKUT’s was on the tour, and brings us this report in French.

The RAPSIM had three claims on this Bus Tour :

  • The restoration of general and Community nature of the Homelessness Partnerships Strategy , a federal program providing assistance to thousands of people in Montreal and elsewhere in Quebec;
  • A recurring increase federal support roaming $ 50 million in Quebec, starting in the 2016-2017 budget
  • A federal reinvestment in social housing

All the candidates accepted these requests, and underlined the importance of this issue in the Federal Elections.

Entrevue avec Pierre Gaudreau sur la Stratégie de partenariats de lutte contre l’itinérance

nsa l'itineraire
La Nuit des sans-abri a 25 ans

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En matière d’itinérance, la position du gouvernement Québécois affirme l’importance d’un modèle qui finance une variété d’actions tels que intervention et immobilisations entres autres. Le Réseau d’aide aux personnes seules et itinérantes de Montréal (RAPSIM) est un regroupement de 103 organismes qui viennent à l’aide aux sans abris à Montréal. Leila Lemghalef s’est assise avec Pierre Gaudreau, coordonnateur au RAPSIM, pour une mise à jour du dossier sur la Stratégie de partenariats de lutte contre l’itinérance, qui traite de l’orientation des gouvernements provincial et fédéral envers l’entente qui est actuellement en négociation pour 2015-2019. 25e Nuit des sans-abris 17 octobre


Provincial elections – Interview with Kat Gray



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As the provincial election enters its 3rd week, have issues like poverty and homelessness been adequately addressed in the campaign?  Off the Hour’s Andre Goulet spoke with Kat Gray, executive director of Benedict Lebray House, a poverty outreach organization in Griffintown, to find out.

Homeless Women in Montreal: An Interview with Ann-Gaelle Whiteman from the Dahlia Centre

Couverture La rue se durcit_0         Last week, the government of Quebec announced a new policy to which the homeless solidarity network in Quebec responded positively in most parts. Amelie Phillipson from the CKUT’s community news collective, spoke with Ann-Gaelle Whiteman who works at the Dahlia Centre that provides, accommodation, support and guidance to homeless women.  Thanks to Alejandro Hernandez for the transcription.

CKUT: Hi, Ann-Gaelle.  First of all, can you talk about what gets women on the streets of Montreal.  How do they lose housing and end up in this situation?

AGW: At La Rue des Femmes, we don’t see it as ending up in that situation… it’s a lot more complicated than that.  Actually, we see it as a matter of relational health.  Women on the street right now are women that went through a lot of abuse, neglect when they were children… and a child in order to survive from the neglect and trauma from parents or other people around them, disconnect themselves, the brain disconnects the mantle from the physical (that’s the only way they can survive).  So for us, when those situations repeatedly happen, we say that the child is completely disconnected inside. And that’s where homelessness starts actually and after that if it continues in their lives, then it’s just a matter of time before they end up in the streets because inside they are already lost. Continue reading