Quebec Housing Crisis: “We’ve Lost Control”

Several low-cost housing buildings were demolished to make way for new construction, which was far too expensive for the former tenants. $, les gens ne peuvent pas se payer ça”,”text”:”Un quatre et demie à 1400$, les gens ne peuvent pas se payer ça”}}”>Four and a half for $1400, people can’t afford thathe observes.

The situation is similar in several Quebec cities, points out Cédric Dussault, spokesman for the Regroupement of Housing Committees and Tenants Associations of Quebec (RCLALQ).

What we are currently experiencing is unprecedented. We have problems in all regions.

Affordable housing is scarce or almost absent throughout Québec. »

A quote from Cédric Dussault, spokesman for RCLALQ

In Sherbrooke, the average vacancy rate is 0.9%. This is less than the Québec average for cities with more than 10,000 residents (2.5%), but more than many other cities.

In a balanced market, the vacancy rate should be around 3%.

In recent years there has been an increase in evictions and home expropriations, reports Mr Dussault, even in regions that have never experienced these types of problems and therefore have no housing committee to help affected tenants.

Needs have exploded outside of urban centers and the resources aren’t there, neither the advocacy groups nor community aid, he explains. We had never experienced that before.

This is confirmed by Amélie Pelland, coordinator and social worker at Action-Logement Lanaudière, who has noticed that the situation has been deteriorating for about three years.

While his organization used to manage a dozen cases a year, in 2021 he was handling a hundred. There have already been around fifty cases this year, most of which involve home expropriations or abusive rent increases.

We used to have cases of unsanitary conditions. Now people don’t call about it anymore. They are afraid of losing their hut. »

A quote from Amélie Pelland, from Action-Logement Lanaudière

People are anxious, panicking, explains Ms. Pelland. They’re afraid of losing their apartment because they know they won’t find another one.

HLM building in Joliette.

Photo: Radio Canada / René Saint-Louis

In addition, the cases listed are a minority, recalls Yannick Baumann, a lecturer at the Department of Geography at the University of Montreal. As a member of the Parc-Extension Action Committee (CAPE), he is actively involved in supporting displaced tenants in this Montreal neighborhood.

We’ve gone from a dozen takeover or eviction complaints in 2017 to more than thirty in 2021, he says. But there are many people who don’t know CAPE. We know this is just the tip of the iceberg.

What do people who lose their homes do?

Some rent new accommodation that is too expensive by their standards. % au loyer, on empiète sur nos besoins essentiels. Après, ils doivent fréquenter des banques alimentaires et des groupes d’entraide pour le reste de leurs besoins.”,”text”:”On voit de plus en plus de locataires consacrer plus de la moitié de leurs revenus au loyer, explique Cédric Dussault. Mais quand on consacre plus de 30% au loyer, on empiète sur nos besoins essentiels. Après, ils doivent fréquenter des banques alimentaires et des groupes d’entraide pour le reste de leurs besoins.”}}”>We are seeing more and more tenants spending more than half of their income on rent, explains Cédric Dussault. But if we spend more than 30% on rent, we are interfering with our basic needs. After that, they have to go to food banks and support groups for the rest of their needs.

Requests for help from food banks have skyrocketed in recent years.

Others rent accommodation that is inadequate, too small, or unsanitary, or resign themselves to moving out of downtown Montreal.

Yannick Baumann notes that households leaving the Parc Extension are moving to districts such as Saint-Michel, Rivière-des-Prairies or Anjou, where there are fewer local transport services and access to public transport is more difficult.

They are being forced to move to more remote areas that are less developed, where there are fewer services and where access to public transport is more difficultregrets Xavier Leloup, professor at the INRS Urbanization Culture Society Center.

You have to make compromises and drop certain criteria. This can be size, quality or location. »

A quote from Xavier Leloup, Professor at INRS

Still others simply become homeless.

Those who have a social network will go to friends or family members, those who can go back to their children, and the less fortunate will sleep in their car. Homelessness is on the rise, but it is hiddenobserves Amelie Pelland.

human dramas

This increase in homelessness is of great concern to the community.

[Avec l’explosion du coût des loyers]there are a number of households or individuals who are becoming homeless, thinks Xavier Leloup. He fears that the large camps that have settled in the city over the past two summers will multiply.

Homeless people pitched tents on Montreal’s Notre-Dame Street in 2020 and 2021 before being evicted from the city.

Photo: Radio Canada / Jean-Claude Taliana

Cédric Dussault also believes camps will multiply across Quebec.

We’re pretty much at the end of the barrel. Renters have nowhere to go. »

A quote from Cédric Dussault, spokesman for RCLALQ

With the human dramas that hide behind these situations.

uncertainty when living It increases anxiety in people with more vulnerable mental healthsays Mario Mercier.

There are people who experience completely impossible situations that make us look like the third world. These are misfortunes and sufferings that people do not see. »

A quote from Mario Mercier of the Sherbrooke Tenants Association

He believes that the situation is particularly difficult for fathers and mothers who have to take care of their children. People are resilient, but if the situation continues to deteriorate, there are those who won’t make it.

A reality observed by Amélie Pelland in Lanaudière. If a family loses their accommodation and no longer has a permanent place of residence, they can be reported to the youth welfare office and run the risk of having their children taken away from them.She says.

Parents are seen as irresponsible if they don’t have a place to stay, notes Ms Pelland. 000$ par année pour pouvoir élever des enfants”,”text”:”Avec le coût actuel des loyers, c’est à se demander s’il va falloir gagner 100000$ par année pour pouvoir élever des enfants”}}”>With current rental costs, you’re wondering if you need to make $100,000 a year to raise kids.she jokes.

In most markets, the vacancy rate for 3-bedroom apartments is even lower than for other apartment types and rents are higher.

The Quebec government announced in May that it would allocate $77.8 million to support renter households, primarily through rent subsidies.

However, this is not enough for municipal housing companies. They want to be heard this summer to push through permanent measures, including a mandatory rent cap, measures to curb evictions and the construction of social housing.

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