West Island community group calls for more affordable housing for seniors

Click to play video: 'Helping West Island seniors living under the poverty line' Helping West Island seniors living under the poverty line
A West Island community group is trying to help low-income senior citizens find stable housing. As Global's Shakti Langlois-Ortega explains, some seniors living in Pointe-Claire are having a really hard time – Aug 14, 2019

While finding an inexpensive apartment is already a challenge in Montreal, it is especially difficult for some low-earning seniors in Pointe-Claire.

“Unfortunately, affordable housing and subsidized housing is a big, big problem in the West Island,” said Alena Ziuleva, director of the Table du Quartier de l’Ouest l’Île (TQSOI), a community organization that wants to bring more affordable housing to Pointe-Claire and other parts of the West Island.

There are 635 seniors who live below the poverty line in Pointe-Claire, according to the 2016 census.

In contrast, the City of Pointe-Claire says there are 408 subsidized or affordable housing units available to those seniors.

READ MORE: Housing affordability: What has the Trudeau government done for you?

Ziuleva says the disparity comes from the misconception that there is no need for low-income housing in Montreal’s West Island.

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“You might see that seniors live in a single family home, which is a common situation in Pointe-Claire, but often times we might not realize that these people live on a very fixed income on a basic pension.”

To encourage the construction of affordable housing, Ziuleva says the government needs to implement a legislative framework.

Pointe-Claire Mayor John Belvedere says he is open to suggestions.

“Are we going to put in bylaws in order to be accommodating to a builder who wants to build? That’s something we’re looking at right now,” he said.

READ MORE: Montreal unveils new housing plan to help low-income earners

The TQSOI has been working alongside various stakeholders to close the gap between affordable housing and seniors in the city. Now, they want to hear what residents need.

“What is affordable housing for you? Why is it important for you? In what form would affordable housing fit in your community?” Ziuleva asked. “It’s important to have citizens’ perspectives.”

The organization will be discussing with city officials in hopes to find a solution.

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While the process of building accessible and affordable housing is lengthy, Ziuleva says it’s a step in the right direction.

“Let’s be honest. This discussion never took place in the past, it’s the first step,” she said. “It starts with acknowledgement that there is a need.”

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