L’Abri’s Beginnings

L’Abri en Ville was the fruit of many meetings in the early 90s with members of downtown Montreal churches concerned with local social problems. They wanted to address the growing numbers of homeless people in the streets as a result of hospitals shutting down their psychiatric long-term care wards.

After meeting and drawing inspiration from a West Island group, CARE (Create a Rehabilitative Community), already providing housing for people with mental illness, we formed a committee, found an office and hired a coordinator.

From the beginning churches and synagogues played a key role in providing volunteers, funds, and help to furnish apartments. Government funding was also crucial. We opened our first apartment in 1991, supported by our coordinator and a small team of volunteers.

At approximately one-year intervals thereafter, we opened another nine, all in west and south-west Montreal. In 2003, with ten apartments, 30 residents, about 60 volunteers and by now three coordinators, we decided not to expand further, to safeguard the family feeling of our organization.