La Maison de Sophia: an organization for women with disabilities under threat of closure in Saint-Jerome

La Maison de Sophia, which shelters women in difficulty in Saint-Jérôme, is on the verge of closing after losing 100% of its funding awarded by CISSS. But officials refuse to surrender and are intensifying their efforts to save the organization.

Their efforts paid off – in part – because they just got on the brink of death An exemption from the St. Jerome Municipal Housing Office to stay in the four apartments they had to leave in June. It is a great obstacle to be overcome, but without funding, unless there be a miracle, which they still hope for, they will nonetheless be obliged to resolve it to announce to their nine inhabitants that they no longer have a roof over their heads. one more time.

Annie, 40, has lived a difficult life: domestic violence, stay in psychiatry, drugs, homelessness … In recent years, she has often felt “like a ball in the system.”

But for the past year, I’ve had a real rest at the Maison de Sophia, where she’s been housed, fed, and escorted. This fracture allowed him to regain his footing. She resumed her studies to complete her fifth educationAnd High school hoping to become a street worker. She is waiting for a rent premium, which will allow her – if she is eligible – to move in. Above all, his situation provides him with enough stability on the court to allow him to see his children.

Today, Annie feels helpless. “If Sophia’s house closes, I’ll start from scratch,” she said wistfully. She is afraid to “retreat”, to return to the street again, and to lose the right to see her children again due to the instability. “I have worked hard to get out of this. But I feel I am not given many opportunities to integrate into society.”

His unhappy roommate, Natalie, has had her share of hardships. After a sexual assault last year, she hastily had to leave the house she was renting. “It’s hard to find housing, I didn’t have a place to live, I fell into drug abuse again,” says the 51-year-old. After getting out of therapy last January, I found a place at Maison de Sophia. “I still scream a lot and am glad to be here.”

Since arriving, she’s received help converting her unpaid tickets into a community service, which gives her a sense of accomplishment. You have taken steps to find new housing, in public housing or with a housing subsidy.

The worker was also there to support her when the prosecutor recently told her that there was not enough evidence to bring criminal charges against her abuser. “I screamed, I yelled at the prosecutor. Yes [l’intervenante] I wasn’t there, of course I would have come back with this news. Speaking of which, there, I come with a heavy heart,” she says, visibly drenched in emotions. “He must not shut up,” I let out in one last cry of heart.


In the small adjacent yard, Noemi, 26, and Jessica, 30, improvise a little picnic under the April sun. They also have challenging life paths, physical and mental problems. They have been living in anxiety since learning that the Maison de Sophia is in danger of closing, but they trust the workers, who repeat to them that they will do everything in their power to continue providing a roof for them. “It’s the first time someone has fought for me…” Jessica says, and everyone is touched.

Indeed, the House of Sophia is fighting for them. “I can’t give in to leave these women on the street,” Alexandra Soman, volunteer chairwoman, says with conviction. I am willing to go on a hunger strike, establish a human chain sit in. But I promised a little girl…”

M’s Sammy settles down and she reneges on this promise she made to Annie’s daughter. “The last time I saw her, she asked me: ‘Do you think I’ll keep seeing my mom? I promised her yes, because I couldn’t tell her otherwise… I couldn’t give up, you know?’”

Therefore, calls for help, appeals against decisions, and questioning of elected officials at the municipal and county levels are multiplied to save time. The Minister of Housing, André Laforest, intervened directly with the municipal office of Saint-Jerome to avoid the eviction of House Sophia, which was due to take place at the end of June and to renew the lease for twelve months.

“It is a relief – temporary – for us, but unfortunately, without a commitment from the state to adequately fund us, we remain at risk of closure in the coming weeks,” Alexandra Somin answers.

“Breaking Options”

Because basically the biggest problem is that CISSS des Laurentides has cut its funding for the Maison de Sophia, whose budget last year was about $230,000.

“With a budget of $3,329,105 and after receiving more than 30 projects representing approximately $13,000,000 in order, a limited number of proposals were selected by the allotment committee. Unfortunately, despite its importance, your project was not selected,” he explained. CISSS in an email sent to the organization on March 25.

asked by duty, CISSS talks about “heartbreaking options”, adding that it was “desirable” to have the means “to grant the funding required by all requesting organizations”.

But where would Annie, Natalie, Noemi, Jessica, Lou Ann and the other women of Sophia’s house meet if it closed? “CISSS has offered its support to the organization should this need exist,” can we read in the emailed response.

However, according to Suddenly, other accommodation resources in the area crowded, information that CISSS could not validate, as the number of needs and resources in progress.

Although aware of the importance of shelter resources for women victims of domestic violence, who benefit from greater financial support these days, Alexandra Suman deplores the lack of assistance provided to those who, despite the years, continue to suffer from such violence, as is the case for many residents Sophia’s house. An opinion shared by Annie, who fired in a frustrated tone: “It’s like they’re saying to me: put your face back for a kick and we’ll help you.”

Let’s see in the video

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