Montreal soccer stadium turns into homeless shelter for individuals who are COVID-positive

MONTREAL –

With COVID-19 spreading quickly in Montreal’s homeless community, most do not have access to indoor isolation options. On Thursday, the city announced it would convert an indoor soccer stadium into an emergency shelter.

Mayor Valerie Plante toured the facility Thursday at the Stade de soccer de Montréal ahead of its opening.

“They can isolate themselves, it’s safe, it’s warm. It’s really well installed,” she said.

The stadium has been stocked with 300 cots, and there’s capacity for more.

James Hughes, CEO of the shelter Old Brewery Mission, says this kind of space is crucial.

“The alternative is that they have to stay in a place like the Old Brewery in a separate wing where they can isolate there. But that is so dangerous for staff, that is so dangerous for the rest of the population,” he said.

“In a communal environment such as ours, it will just swing through the whole place.”

The logistics of getting people to the site are still being worked out, but once they arrive, they’ll have a warm place to stay and be provided with food and care.

“We’re part of the food delivery team and also moving things around doing the logistics. Things that Red Cross does when we open a shelter for, let’s say, disaster victims,” explained Pascal Mathieu of the Red Cross, which is helping set up the shelter.

Earlier this week, a 74-year-old homeless man died after spending the night outside.

Advocates like Sam Watts, CEO of shelter Welcome Hall Mission, says the new resource couldn’t come soon enough.

“What has changed is there’s simply more available space for people who are either waiting for a test result, or who have been confirmed as positive. [People] who need to isolate and don’t have a home to go to, and also don’t need to be in hospital,” he said.

There is no closure date set for this shelter, which will remain open for as long as it’s needed.

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