12/08/2014 12:36 EST | Updated 02/07/2015 05:59 EST

PRISM project to benefit from Quebec homelessness action plan's extra $4.6M

The Quebec government has increased its budget to fight homelessness, announced LucieCharlebois, the provincial minister for Rehabilitation, Youth Protection and Public Health, on Sunday.

She announced an additional $4.6 million, bringing the total budget for the government's 2015-2020 homelessness action plan to $12.7 million.

François Saillant of housing advocacy group FRAPRU said the additional money is a good start, but that the new plan doesn't do enough to help those who are at risk of becoming homeless.

He said 53,000 Montrealers spend 80 per cent or more of their monthly income on rent.

Saillant called for a greater, more long-term investment in social housing.

However, the new money is good news for at least one shelter in downtown Montreal.

Matthew Pearce, the director of homeless shelter the Old Brewery Mission, said the money will allow the shelter to continue its successful pilot project called PRISM.

The project, a partnership between the shelter and the University of Montreal superhospital (CHUM)'s psychiatry department, is an adapted approach to working with homeless people with mental health issues.

PRISM project can continue

Instead of sending homeless people who are in a state of crisis to the hospital, psychiatrists, social workers and nurses work out of the shelter in an adapted facility.

"It will mean a great deal to us. It will mean even more to the homeless population suffering from mental illness. The PRISM project [reconnects] homeless people with the health care system by adapting it to meet their needs. It’s been an absolutely outstanding pilot project," Pearce told CBC Daybreak on Monday.

Pearce spoke of one successful case that was part of the PRISM project.

A man in his mid-70s, who had been in the shelter environment for over a decade was welcomed into the program.

After a week and a half of medical and psychological care, Pearce said the man is off the streets and living in a supported environment.

He said the extra government money is especially welcome at a time when the province is cutting everywhere else.

"They’ve been cutting everywhere else, and here they’re adding money, so I have to give them kudos for this. We’re in a time of austerity. Of course, homeless people, their whole lives are in austerity, so I appreciate that that’s been acknowledged," Pearce said.

“Of course it’s not enough money, but I’m not going to complain about that in the context we’re in. I’m going to say thank you for the extra money, it will hit the ground running and it will make a difference."