At Willie’s Place
Day respite place for homeless
“Homelessness is a social problem. Respect for the most basic rights can not be reduced to a simple matter of personal responsibility, a private matter or the action of a single organization. We must recognize a collective responsibility for this issue and make the necessary arrangements to reintegrate into society those who are already on the margins of this society and to prevent others from engaging in it.”
Project description “Chez Willie’s Place”
In December 2014, the “Chez Willie” pilot project was initiated to provide a humanitarian response to a social reality, that of homelessness in Val-d’Or. Open for 16 weeks (Chez Willie closed temporarily on April 10 for lack of financing and the sale of the building where the services were located), the “Chez Willie” experience led to the conclusion that the intervention formula developed joined people in their value and identity. In fact, the culturally relevant approach advocated combined with the sense of belonging of the street people to the place and the trust established with stakeholders have given significant results (see the pre-evaluation report produced by the DIALOG Network as well summary of attendance statistics).
The “Chez Willie” project is a place of respite day, a rallying point for street people and a meeting place for community workers and street workers. “Chez Willie” must be a welcoming place, free of any prejudice, which favors the optimization of the intervention and the coordination of actions and services with the homeless population of Val-d’Or.
This project brings together stakeholders and people who are socially disrupted and who may be suffering from multiple problems (homelessness, addiction, legalization, mental health, etc.) with a view to providing them with appropriate and relevant assistance.
The permanent opening of “Chez Willie” will be a response to the concrete needs of people who survive on the street more than they live. This project contributes to the development of intervention support plans and helps people to support and exit in a dignified and respectful way.
In short, the main objective of the project is to implement a concerted action plan for the permanent opening of a day respite center for people who are homeless in Val-d’Or who will respond to the needs of the targeted clientele by offering non-discriminatory, accessible and culturally relevant and secure services.
Considering the need expressed by users of the Respite Pilot Project, the Native Friendship Center has decided to take the lead and actively look for a place to permanently plant it. The premises available for rent in Val-d’Or are few, very expensive and often unsuitable for the use we want to make. So we turned to the purchase of a building, which would give us more possibilities in terms of layout and functionality.
The place of respite should be a safe and welcoming place for both stakeholders and users. It should allow users to rest and gather without the concern of being arrested for non-compliance with municipal by-laws.
The building targeted to establish our daytime respite center for people in homelessness is strategically located on 4th Avenue in Val-d’Or. Indeed, it is in the city center, which facilitates access for users. It is not located in a very residential area or too close to shops that could be anxious to see the arrival of this type of center in its neighborhood. Moreover, it is only a few steps from the Friendship Center.
The Val-d’Or Native Friendship Center
The Val-d’Or Native Friendship Center is a hub of urban services, a living environment and a cultural anchor for First Peoples, dedicated to well-being, justice and social inclusion. harmonious cohabitation in one’s environment. A leader in a committed Aboriginal civil society, the Friendship Center actively contributes to the social, community, economic and cultural development of its community through innovative and proactive strategies. At the Friendship Center, programming and service delivery are based on human values of commitment, respect, integrity and solidarity.
Homelessness: an increasingly visible phenomenon
The phenomenon of homelessness is no longer a reality that only concerns large cities such as Montreal, Toronto, Winnipeg or Vancouver. Homelessness, that of life in the street, is indeed real in a city of region like Val-d’Or. Tinged with the Aboriginal reality, this phenomenon emerging on the territory requires adaptation and adequate responses that challenge all key players in the field.
The Val-d’Or Native Friendship Center has for many years been at the heart of this reality by structuring with its partners culturally relevant and reassuring services for Aboriginal people who find themselves in this situation. For more than five years, the Friendship Center has joined forces with key stakeholders and organizations in the community to better coordinate action and link services for this clientele.
In May 2014, elected representatives from the three levels of government (municipal, provincial and federal) pledged to act and support the community in the search for constructive and sustainable solutions to the fight against homelessness. Anxious to foster harmonious cohabitation between downtown merchants, citizens and the homeless population, community organizations (including the Friendship Center) and the Vallée de l’Or Health and Social Services Center were questioned in the process.
- Project: Centre de répit pour itinérants
- Area: Val d’Or, Québec
- Surface: 1 800 pi2 (167m2)
- Budget: 175 000$
- Years: 2015-2016
- Collaborators :
- Artcad Groupe Conseil
- Edith Dennis Larocque stag. arch.
- Share this project: