Nearly 200 Quebec households have been forced to find temporary shelter after failing to find a new place to live on the province’s annual moving day, the provincial housing agency said Saturday.
The Société d’habitation du Quebec said among the people who have contacted regional housing offices or it’s customer service centre for help, “178 households are currently being rehoused temporarily, either with people close to them or in hotels.”
“Every effort is being made so that no household that calls our assistance network finds itself on the street during this moving period,” it said in an email Saturday.
Veronique Laflamme, a spokeswoman for Quebec tenants group the Front d’action populaire en réaménagement urbain, said the number of people asking for help to find housing on Saturday changed by the hour.
She said her organization was aware of 680 tenant households that had not signed a new lease as of Friday — the day the vast majority of residential leases in the province ended.
“That number is only a pale reflection of the reality, as it doesn’t take into account households that have not yet come forward,” she said in an interview Saturday, adding the figure also omits people who settled for housing that doesn’t truly meet their needs.
Premier François Legault issued a social media post on Saturday encouraging Quebecers who need help finding a home to contact their local housing office.
Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante issued a similar message, telling Montreal residents to call 311 for help.
Laflamme said the housing crisis in Quebec — Once limited to major centres — has become more widespread. She said tenants in smaller communities are now, for the first time, also struggling to find affordable housing.
Last year, she said, 620 households were unable to find housing on July 1.
Almost 10 per cent of tenants in the province move on July 1, according to landlord organization Corporation des proprietaires immobiliers du Quebec.
The annual moving day is a vestige of a colonial-period law intended to protect tenant farmers from evictions during the winter.