Finding a place to call home has gotten more difficult and more expensive, especially for low-income families in the Greater Montreal Area, according to a new report released Tuesday.
Low-income renters, single people, immigrants and visible minorities are the hardest hit, according to the findings from the ‘Vital Signs’ report conducted by the Institut du Québec, Foundation of Greater Montreal and Centraide of Montreal.
Over the past six years, the lack of affordable housing and increased costs have put a heavy financial burden on low-income earners, according to Karel Mayrand, CEO of Foundation of Greater Montréal.
“It’s an invisible crisis if you look at averages. It is a crisis for an important part of our population,” Mayrand said.
For 21 per cent of the poorest Montrealers, housing costs represent 80 per cent of their income, according to Statistics Canada.
The report also found the cost of renting has increased across the board, rising fastest on the North and South shore.
The average rent for occupied units increased by $150 or 19 per cent.
The average rent for unoccupied units went up nearly 30 per cent.
“So basically what we found is really there are situations that are intolerable,” Mayrand said.
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In the last five years, the average rent for a two-bedroom unit has increased close to 40 per cent.
The CEO of Centraide, Claude Pinard, says the cost of living is cutting into necessities like food.
“Food security is directly linked to how much money you pay to house yourself or your family, so it creates a lot of pressure,” Pinard said.
On top of that, the reports highlights that available housing is in short supply, with vacancy rates remaining low, hovering at three per cent.
Families are also outgrowing their homes — 15 per cent of those surveyed said their dwelling was too small.
Since 2018, there has been a recorded increase of 25 per cent of rental units in need of major repairs.
“Many people have to cling to unlivable apartments because they can’t afford to move. You get stuck in a poverty trap,” Mayrand said.
While the report mentions the efforts by different levels of government in introducing housing projects, community organizations say a large-scale plan is needed.
“We need to have a ten-year plan, we need to have a common definition of the problem, we need common goals, common evaluations that will help us track our success in making sure that people can live in dignity,” Pinard said.
Advocates insist that making affordable housing a priority will help lift thousands of Quebecers out of poverty.
“If you have decent housing for everyone, you end up solving poverty,” Mayrand said.