About fifteen homeless people who have set up camp under the Ville-Marie highway, in downtown Montreal, and who were threatened with eviction will be taken care of by the Government of Quebec, which is committed to finding them housing. adapted to their needs.

The homeless people were contesting in court the eviction notice sent to them at the beginning of March by the Ministère des Transports du Québec (MTQ), which intended to undertake work at the site of the camp, near avenue Atwater, by the end of the month.

On Wednesday morning, before the judge heard their request for an injunction at the Montreal courthouse, an agreement was reached between their lawyers and those of the Quebec government, in which the authorities agreed to enter into discussions “to find, together with the various partners, solutions to house homeless people currently living in the camps, all while respecting the needs and rights of these individuals”.

“It is not a question of housing them in emergency shelters, but of finding housing solutions that meet the needs of each of them,” explains Me Donald Tremblay, Executive Director of the Mobile Legal Clinic, who acts as a representative of the campers.

Some people with mental health issues will need support to settle down and maintain housing, he adds.

“We’re not talking about dogs and cats. They are human beings. We are in Quebec in 2023, but they are treated like less than nothing, protests Me Tremblay. It’s been going on for months and the government is doing nothing, it’s unacceptable. Today, we have an obligation to act to respect their human dignity and that is extraordinary. »

Michel Chabot, 58, one of the campers who has lived under the highway for several months, was at the courthouse for proceedings. He says he is confident that the agreement reached will allow him to have housing.

“I’m not asking for much, just a 1 and a half and I’ll be happy,” he says. Suffering from cancer, he is currently undergoing chemotherapy treatments.

“I may not be long, and one of my fears is that my remains will be found in my tent eaten by rats. »

“The agreement is a small step for human rights and for recognizing the value of human life”, rejoices David Chapman, general manager of the organization Résilience Montréal, which supports the group of campers by serving them hot meals in particular. .

Beyond the actions that will be taken to find housing for the homeless in this camp, Donald Tremblay hopes that this situation will advance the government’s thinking on the issue of the right to housing.

The Mobile Legal Clinic was represented in court pro bono by a team of lawyers from the firm Osler, led by Me Éric Préfontaine.