Coderre visits homeless camp, says city must do more to help

MONTREAL —
Former and possibly future Montreal mayor Denis Coderre toured a makeshift camp where Montrealers have set up tents on Tuesday, saying his successor must do more to help the homeless.

The site off Hochelaga Rd. in the East End currently has around 12 tents and campers set up, but Coderre, who has announced his candidacy for this fall’s election, said the city needs to learn something from a similar camp that sprung up last year.

“Instead of re-inventing the wheel all the time, we have a great solution by reclassifying a hotel or acquiring a building,” he said.

Welcome Hall Mission CEO Sam Watts said temporarily converting unused hotel rooms into makeshift shelters would offer much-needed flexibility.

“I think it’s a good idea to look at every possible solution that’s out there,” he said. “This is just one of them and it may be suitable for some areas of the city and less suitable for others.”

Guylain Levasseur, who is living in the camp, said one solution would not necessarily fit all.

“Come see the people one-by-one and ask them what are their needs, because not all people have the same needs,” he said.

Watts said the problem is a solvable one.

“I guess we’re looking for greater speed and greater flexibility in being able to tailor solutions to the needs of individuals,” he said. “We’re not dealing with 40,000 people here. We’re talking about a couple of thousand people. This is something we can do.”

The administration of current mayor Valerie Plante said it has passed regulations to keep rooming houses affordable – something, they point out, that Coderre never did while in office.

Coderre visits homeless camp, says city must do more to help