Montrealers are moving this weekend, but according to housing advocates, close to 130 households still don’t have a place to live before moving day, July 1.
“People who don’t have a good income have no place to go because there’s just no affordable housing in Montreal right now,” said Front d’action populaire en réaménagement urbain (FRAPRU) spokesperson Véronique Laflamme.
The city’s lowest vacancy rate in decades is in part to blame for the issue, she adds.
The overall rental vacancy rate is down to 1.9 per cent from 2.8 per cent the year before, but for apartments with three bedrooms or more, the number drops to 0.8 percent, according to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s latest Rental Market Report.
Laflamme says the numbers get even lower as moving day approaches.
She adds that some families have also been facing discrimination.
“A lot of landlords don’t want to rent to people with kids,” she said.
Housing rights groups have also seen a rise in cases of so-called “renovictions,” when landlords use major renovations as a way to get around the province’s rules on evictions and rent increases.
The City of Montreal said it is looking after nearly 100 individuals who have yet to find a place to live, in order of priority.
“We’re taking care of everybody that has come to us,” said Montreal executive committee member Craig Sauvé.
The city is hoping to house everyone within the coming weeks, he said.
The Quebec housing minister recently agreed to dole out an emergency rent supplement to families and individuals who cannot afford rent, but only 15 of those were given out in Montreal.
“It is actually not as much as we had hoped for, quite honestly, so we are negotiating with Quebec for a little bit more,” Sauvé said.
Laflamme argues that even though these measures help, they arrived too late to be effective for the first of July.
She hopes to see more concrete solutions to avoid a similar situation in the future.
Both Sauvé and Laflamme agree that housing should be a priority for the Quebec government.
— With files from the Canadian Press