Removals: Together Montreal wants a “housing bank”

Dém&eacute ;housing: Ensemble Montreal wants a “housing bank” /></p>
<p> Benoit Langevin, Official Opposition Critic for Homelessness./Josie Desmarais/Journal Métro </p>
<p>While 16 Montreal households are still staying in hotels, the Official Opposition to the City of Montreal, Ensemble Montreal, is proposing the creation of a “housing bank” with the goal of giving the lease to Montrealers in need.</p>
<p>The party will table a motion to this effect at the next municipal council. According to Ensemble Montréal, this would be a new solution to limit the number of families who find themselves homeless on July 1.</p>
<p>In fact, around fifteen families are staying in hotels while waiting to be able to to relocate, some of which for almost eight months, indicates the spokesperson for the Official Opposition in the fight against poverty and homelessness, Benoît Langevin. The Office municipal de l’habitation de Montréal (OMHM) points out, however, that not all people moved on July 1st.</p>
<p>According to Mr. Langevin, this situation is proof that the Plante administration is going too late to limit the damage.  Montreal. The sums to be paid are increasingly important for temporary accommodation and other emergency measures,” he said.</p>
<p>On Tuesday, the Plante administration launched a certification project for building owners, accompanied by a rent register.</p>
<h3 id=An approach in partnership with organizations

It is in this context that the Official Opposition is calling for the creation of a housing bank aimed at securing housing for vulnerable tenants.< /p>

This approach would be carried out in partnership with community organizations such as the Mission Bon Accueil and financial assistance would be granted to them to cover the costs associated with this research, it is specified. 

Benoit Langevin explains that the participation of the City of Montreal would be a great asset for these organizations. It would allow them to get their hands on housing at an attractive price without the risk of having to pay leases if they do not find takers.

“The financial risk rests on the shoulders of the City of Montreal, but it is a minimal risk knowing that the needs are enormous in Montreal. That said, to prevent this, we are asking that the administration set aside a reserve of one million dollars in order to reimburse the lease of the accommodation if it still remains without a tenant after July 1,” added Mr. Langevin.

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Welcome Hall Mission President and CEO Sam Watts is in favor of the idea. “We think being proactive in helping people who may have difficulty accessing housing is a good idea. It's not partisan. No one is safe from finding themselves in this situation when 63% of people are renters in Montreal. All it takes is one or two misfortunes and you find yourself homeless,” he said. 

According to Ensemble Montreal, this solution would also have the advantage of helping Montrealers who not qualify for the rent supplement program.

Nearly 400 households supported

In 2021, 931 tenant households called on the City's referral service, of which 392 actually found themselves homeless and had to be accompanied, indicates the spokesperson for the Front d’action populaire en réménagement urbain (FRAPRU), Véronique Laflamme. 

“The number of tenant households that had to resort to emergency assistance last year and the number of those who were still homeless in February 2022 illustrate the depth what is the housing crisis in Montreal and the urgency of the Quebec government taking care of it, ”she thinks.

As for the Office municipal d’habitation de Montréal (OMHM), it has received 800 new requests for low-cost housing (HLM) over the past year, according to Ms. Laflamme. Its waiting list now has almost 24,000 households, she adds.

“However, we have the impression that despite the unacceptable nature of these situations, that tenants must be accommodated in motels for weeks, that others in certain regions sleep in their car, the Quebec government seems to persist in its indifference to put in place structuring measures,” deplores Ms. Laflamme.

FRAPRU demands 10,000 new social housing

FRAPRU believes, however, that subsidizing rents on the private market does not provide a lasting solution. “On the one hand, it does not increase the supply of truly accessible housing for low- and modest-income tenants.   On the other hand, the housing available on the market is increasingly expensive; nothing seems to be slowing down their growth and government subsidies, as required by the opposition's proposal, could fuel this trend, instead of slowing it down,” says Véronique Laflamme.

The organization is asking for funding instead. 10,000 new social housing units as of the next Quebec government budget, including 4,500 for Montreal. “For the city to have a bank of housing available for households who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless, it is absolutely necessary to develop more social housing, quickly; and for that, investments from Quebec are essential. However, for the past 3 years, the provincial government has been financing the construction of new units in dribs and drabs,” adds Ms. Laflamme.

During the last campaign election, Valérie Plante's party, Projet Montréal, has pledged to build 2,000 new social housing units per year during her mandate.

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