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Housing-rights advocates pay visit to Premier Legault’s office demanding affordable housing become a priority

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Housing-rights advocates pay visit to Premier Legault’s office demanding affordable housing become a priority
WATCH: Housing-rights advocates are using the holiday season to remind the provincial government of the urgent needs for housing in the province. They argue that traditional holiday campaigns to support vulnerable families, aren't enough to help all those struggling with rising rent costs. As Global's Phil Carpenter reports, many gathered outside Premier Legault's Montreal office to send a message – Dec 7, 2023

‘Tis the season for holiday initiatives to raise funds to help those in need.

However, with rising rent costs and increasing homelessness, housing advocates are putting pressure on governments saying that relying on charities is far from enough.

“The main message is the market is leaving people behind,” explained Sunny Doyle of Comité BAILS. She and other housing advocates rallied Thursday in front of the Montreal office of Quebec premier François Legault as well as that of housing minister’s office, France-Élaine Duranceau.

“Because we are really into a housing crisis,” Catherine Lussier, a community organizer with the Front d’action populaire en réaménagement urbain (FRAPRU) said. “Montreal has a lot of tenants that are at risk of homelessness. There are 86,000 that are paying more than 50 percent of their income (for rent).”

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Advocates worry it will only get worse under Bill 31, the province’s new housing legislation which proposes a number of changes to rental leases. The bill was initially intended to give better protection against renovictions, but one of its most controversial aspects is the proposal to make it harder for tenants to transfer a lease. Critics warn that will give landlords the green light to hike rents substantially when someone vacates an apartment.

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“We’re going to remove this and what do we have to protect against rent increase?” Lussier wondered.

The bill is currently under review at Quebec’s National Assembly and housing minister France-Élaine Duranceau wants it adopted by Friday. But housing rights groups want the bill scrapped entirely, claiming there are more clauses that hurt rather than help tenants. They believe the priority for all levels of government should be more social housing, so they are calling for 50,000 new units over 5 years, including 23,000 in Montreal.

“The demand is there,” insisted Nicholas Harvest of Regroupement Information Logement. “In Pointe-Saint-Charles we have a list of about 1,300 people waiting for housing.”

He and others point to plans for hundreds of social housing projects that are waiting to be built, and say it’s time all levels of governments commit to strong, concrete plans and support for social housing.

 

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