City of Montreal still housing tenants in hotels 8 months after moving day

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City of Montreal still housing tenants in hotels 8 months after moving day
WATCH: Opposition party Ensemble Montreal is calling on the Plante administration to solve the housing crisis. It is proposing solutions to reduce the number of families who are forced out and don't have a place to live after Quebec's July 1 moving day. But as Global’s Phil Carpenter reports, housing advocates say a more complete overhaul of the system is needed. – Feb 16, 2022

Since moving day last summer, some families still don’t have a place to call home, according to City of Montreal opposition party Ensemble Montréal.

“At the moment we have 16 households that are staying in hotels according to the [Montreal Municipal Housing Office] (OMHM) who confirmed to us yesterday,” said Benoit Langevin, the party’s critic for homelessness and poverty, at a press conference.

The party is set to present a motion at a Montreal city council meeting Feb. 21 that officials say will help make sure all Montrealers have a place to live come July 1st, traditional moving day in the province.

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“We are proposing that starting in February, the city works with community groups to create a housing bank,” he explained.

According to Langevin, those groups would rent up 100 affordable units which, by July 1st, would be made available to tenants who cannot access rental subsidy programmes.

“The cost associated to it would be up to $1 million, which is already being spent on emergency housing,” he told Global News.

The pilot project would start this February.

Sam Watts, CEO and executive director for the Welcome Hall Mission, is backing the plan and pointed out that it would be good to have some units ready for this coming July.

“The main idea here is to find a proactive solution and to prevent the usual action that we all find ourselves together of responding to an emergency,” he said.

Watts noted that it’s just one of a number of things that needs to be done to end the annual moving day crisis.

Another housing advocacy group agrees that the programme is interesting, but that it’s not enough.

According to Darby MacDonald of Project Genesis, “Ultimately the situation we’re facing isn’t going to be rectified by 100 units.  We’re looking at a situation where we need the city to invest in getting more funding for social housing and developing it.

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Balarama Holness, head of the Mouvement Montréal party, criticizes mayor Valerie Plante’s administration for not doing more to force developers to build more affordable housing.

“That’s just a microcosm of a larger issue where housing is increasingly unaffordable,” he stressed, “and social housing, the 24,000 people waiting for social housing, that need is still not met.”

In a statement, the city says it is stepping up efforts to make sure there’s enough affordable housing, and that their officials are studying Ensemble Montréal’s proposal.

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