Alexandre was sorting cans one recent morning outside a tent pitched next to a busy Montreal road by the Port of Montreal.

Until the COVID-19 pandemic hit, he had been sleeping at a homeless shelter, but when health measures forced the shelter to cut its capacity, he was forced onto the street. For the past three months, Alexandre, who refused to give his last name, has called this informal encampment east of downtown Montreal home. In late November, his was one of more than 40 tents on the thin stretch of grass.

“So far it hasn’t been too cold,” he told a reporter. He likes that people are free to come and go, unlike the shelter, which he says was “like a prison.” He figures he’ll tough it out through the winter.