Chez Doris Women’s Shelter Seeks to Expand by Purchasing Fulford Residence – Montreal
Chez Doris women’s shelter is looking to expand its reach into downtown Montreal to meet what it calls a growing need by purchasing the century-old Fulford Residence.
“There is a great social advantage in creating social housing, affordable housing. It’s a real shame to see so many homeless people in Montreal,” said Chez Doris general manager Marina Boulos.
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Unoccupied since last June, the Fulford Residence building along Guy Street is at the center of a potential bidding war.
The green gem of a house has a rich and long history in the Peter McGill neighborhood of Montreal.
Established at Guy’s location in 1890 by the Anglican Church, the space was a haven for countless women over the past century.
More recently, it was a residence for elderly women until it closed last summer.
“Montreal is no longer an affordable city,” said Boulos.
Chez Doris hopes to purchase and renovate the aging space using federal grant money to expand the much-needed social housing network downtown.
In the past two years since the pandemic began, Boulos says the number of homeless people among their members at the shelter has doubled.
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Valued at around $4 million according to Boulos, the lot could provide some 38 spacious rooms for women in a year.
“The location is great, it’s only a few blocks from our current location,” Boulos said.
“It would also be perfect as a community space for isolated women, who could come for social recreational activities. Space in the city is lacking.
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“We are worried because this sector is under a lot of real estate pressure,” said Heritage Montreal spokesperson Taika Baillargeron.
Baillargeron wants to see the structure preserved and its mission kept alive by designating it as an official building of Montreal heritage.
Heritage Montreal supported Chez Doris.
“It’s really the kind of organization we want to see there because they really follow the steps and the vision first there,” Baillargeron said.
The building, however, is prime real estate with many potential buyers, including perhaps Concordia University, which owns much of the surrounding property for a future development.
Concordia University had no comment.
“We don’t discuss our interest or non-interest in real estate,” Concordia spokeswoman Vannina Maestracci said.
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The residence isn’t officially on the market yet, according to Chez Doris, but Boulos worries with the hot market that the women’s shelter will be outbid in the selection process.
“This is our cry for help,” Boulos said.
Chez Doris says it is working closely with the City of Montreal and Résidence Fulford to help acquire the building with the aim of improving social housing in the city.
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