The streets of Montreal

April 7, 2008

Photo by: AKidd

I always notice and sometimes greets them walking on Ave Mont Royal. They sit or stand the same place; the guy with his dog in front of the pet store, the lady with the big winter boots outside the SAQ and the man who plays with his cap. But they are not always on the street.

As I wrote earlier in A Dane wondering, I have been thinking about where the homeless people on Ave Mont Royal go in night or when it gets cold or wet and how the social system takes care of them compared to the Danish social system. Just to make it clear I base my wonder about the homeless on the assumption that these people on Ave Mont Royal are in fact homeless, I don’t know if they are just begging for money and going home to an apartment.

In Denmark there are about 5.000 homeless people, in most cases these people have the opportunity the be helped by the social services, but since 69 percent of them are addicted to alcohol, hash, narcotics and/or medicine and 30 percent suffer from mental illness they do not always get the help. And therefore they end up on the streets, homeless (of cause for some it is a way of living).

As I tried to find out where the homeless go to sleep, eat, and keep warm in Montreal I stumbled upon this webpage that offers interesting insight in the lives of homeless people in Canada. On the webpage it says accurate stats are hard to get, but estimations would be that there is anywhere from 10.000 to 30.000 people in the city without a fixed address.

To me that really seems like a lot, when you take into consideration that Montreal has 3.5 million inhabitants against the 5.5 million people in Denmark. I didn’t manage to find out why Montreal has such a big share of homeless (“address less”) people, from the webpage it seem as if there was a lot of places to go to sleep, eat and keep warm. So I didn’t get the impression that Montreal doesn’t care, but perhaps I’m wrong?



  1. I think this number is largely exagerated. A newspaper (La Presse, I think) reported this weekend that 550 people sleep in homeless shelters on average every night in Montreal. Add maybe a hundred or two that sleep on the street, in parks, etc. I personnaly work in downtown, and always recognize the same 10-12 homeless people everyday. I really doubt the huge number you read is accurate.

  2. I did a little more research on the number of homeless people in Montreal.

    In an article from the Gazette (June 28, 2005) Alex Dobrota wrote that according to the latest government estimate there are more than 28.000 homeless in Montreal.

    I tried to find the article you saw in La Presse. I’m not that good at French, but I found one called “Pas de miracle sans financement” by Michèle Ouimet from the weekend (April 6, 2008) about the homeless people in Ville-Marie, but from the article I could only find the number that the shelter Maison du Père has 150 guests each night.

    If you look up homelessness in Canada on answers.com I was surprised to find that Canada is second on the list of having the highest homeless population in the developed world.

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