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Quebec mayors say tentative agreement on social housing a ‘victory’

The mayors of Montreal, Quebec City and Gatineau are claiming victory after the provincial and federal governments reached an agreement in principle Thursday to finance social housing.

While the details of the agreement have yet to be revealed, the province could receive up to $1.4 billion over 10 years, said Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante at a press conference in Montreal on Friday.

The mayors of three of the province’s biggest cities agree the announcement couldn’t come soon enough.

Read more: City of Montreal buys Hutchison Plaza in Parc-Ex for social housing

In a written statement Plante said that in Montreal alone, 150,000 families are waiting for adequate, affordable housing.

“We’re happy, it’s a victory … finally after three years there’s an agreement,” Plante said, adding, “$1.4 billion is a lot of money. The needs here are huge.”

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The city’s housing crisis has only been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic with makeshift tent cities popping up around Montreal over the summer.

Plante, however, said it’s unlikely the agreement will help alleviate the problem in the short term.

“I wish I could say that this agreement will solve the problem of people living in tents,” she said. “Unfortunately, it’s not the case because when we think about building housing it takes usually about five years.”

The trio maintains that while municipalities are happy to see the file moving forward, it’s important to stay vigilant.

“We will need to see the agreement and what is in there,” Plante said.

“How do we make sure the money goes to the right place? As cities, we are on the ground — we know what’s going on, we know what are the needs. We want to make sure we still have flexibility and good programs.”

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Read more: Parc-Ex tenants protest to demand more social housing for their community

Gatineau Mayor Maxime Pedneaud agreed with Plante saying Quebec’s system works, but needs a boost.

“Everything can be made better but roughly things are good,” he said. “Our goal is to see if the agreement allows us to put money in the system.”

Quebec is the last province to reach a deal with the federal government.

Read more: Québec Solidaire says government failing to upkeep vacant units amid Montreal housing crisis

When the National Housing Strategy was announced in November 2017, Quebec welcomed the Trudeau government’s reinvestment in affordable housing, while demanding respect for its area of ​​exclusive jurisdiction in housing.

The two governments have since been negotiating to determine how the strategy would apply in Quebec with the province calling for an unconditional federal transfer.

Nationally, this strategy is based on investments of $55 billion over 10 years, aimed in particular at building up to 125,000 new housing units, supporting the needs of 530,000 families, and repairing and modernizing 300,000 housing units.

— With files from The Canadian Press

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