1707990870 Getting out of homelessness one step at a time –

Getting out of homelessness “one step at a time” –

With its opening in 2023, the “Pavillon pour Elle” residence in Lanaudière responded to a need that had been expressed for several years.

Since 2017 there has been talk of a lack of services for women, says the coordinator of the Pavillon pour Elle at the Auberge du CÅ“ur Roland-Gauvreau, Josiane Desaulniers Mainguy.

It is open 24 hours a day, there is supervision and assistance in all procedures […] To give women everything they need to get started again.

This place of transition could not have come at a better time for Claire Blanchard, who had been experiencing a period of homelessness for several months.

In September, in the middle of the housing crisis, we met Claire in an improvised camp in a park in Joliette, among a few tents and fellow sufferers.

A person in a tent.

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Claire Blanchard camping in a park in Joliette in September 2023.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Patrick André Perron

However, in the days following our report, Claire was offered emergency accommodation in Joliette and subsequently cared for at Pavillon pour Elle in Saint-Charles-Borromée.

Within a few weeks she found her way around.

We had meetings with stakeholders. […] “I did a task once a day, a big cleaning once a week, and one meal a week for the others,” she says.

Getting out of homelessness one step at a time –3:23

Davide Gentile's report

During our visit, Claire moved into an apartment thanks to financial support from Quebec and the support of a staff member from the CISSS de Lanaudière.

“It is always very gratifying to see people regaining their autonomy and being happy living in an apartment,” says Maxime Jalbert, human resources manager at CISSS de Lanaudière. We need to constantly inspire hope in the people we support so that we end up as successful as we are today, he adds.

Two people set up a room.

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Maxime Jalbert, Human Relations Agent at CISSS de Lanaudière, supports Claire in her search for an apartment and her doctor's appointments.

Photo: Ivanoh Demers

The presence is all the more important for Claire, who recently learned bad news during a health check.

“I will do everything to fight cancer,” says the woman, now in her 50s. Road workers [et les intervenantes] are important, they helped me get through, not discourage me.

The pavilion for you should start anew on a solid foundation

Generations and destinies come together in the Pavillon pour Elle.

Jessica Thérien, in her early thirties, is using her visit to get back on her feet after months of relapse and problem-solving with friends.

A woman in a living room.

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Jessica Thérien lives in the Pavillon pour Elle in Lanaudière.

Photo: Radio-Canada

I've been in survival mode for a while now, […] But here they show us that we are different from people on the street or people who have difficulties in their personal and professional lives, she testifies.

Jessica, a single mother, is studying at university for a certificate in substance abuse. She would like to receive financial housing assistance to return to an apartment.

Since June we have received 101 requests from women, we have been able to accommodate 21 and unfortunately we have left 80 on the street because we do not have enough places. It's heartbreaking, says coordinator Josiane Desaulniers Mainguy.

For Stéphane Arsenault of the Lanaudière Popular Housing Society, the challenge is just as important.

Since media coverage of the crisis began [du logement]“Our waiting lists have increased by 30%,” notes the society’s coordinator.

The NPO manages a portfolio of 139 residential units and stays on track by acquiring somewhat neglected buildings.

Homelessness among women is increasing

The housing crisis is having a domino effect that is being felt among the homeless across Quebec.

As shown by the latest homeless count from September 2023, the number of homeless people visible on the streets of Quebec almost doubled between 2018 and 2022, reaching 10,000.

Homelessness is increasingly affecting women: the proportion of homeless women rose from 25% in 2018 to 29% in 2022.