Following the unveiling of the Quebec budget on March 25th , the Front d’action populaire en réaménagement urbain (FRAPRU) reacted strongly. The government’s announcement that 500 new social housing units will be built is clearly insufficient.
As the housing shortage spreads in several municipalities and rental prices skyrocket, FRAPRU is delighted that the government has provided funding for new units, as requested not only by community organizations, but also by many municipalities. However, the 500 budgeted units are very largely insufficient to quickly meet the urgent needs of the 244,120 tenant households who had basic housing needs during the last census, that is to say before the pandemic and the shortage of recent years.
For community housing groups, the minimum threshold was 5,000 new units for the next year. For its part, FRAPRU asked the government to launch without further delay a major project of 50,000 social housing units in 5 years.
According to the spokesperson for the Right to Housing group, Véronique Laflamme, “to improve the resilience of Quebec as it claims, the budget should have provided for much more ambitious investments for social housing and announced a plan over several years”. The group is all the more disappointed since almost half of the investments announced come from federal funds.
Still according to the organization, the Legault government’s lack of ambition is all the more inexplicable given that Quebec had a retroactive amount of more than $ 132.6 million received from Ottawa, under the new Canada-Quebec Housing Agreement.
Needs that can’t wait any longer
FRAPRU is outraged by the devastating consequences of poor housing and the lack of affordable housing. Véronique Laflamme does not hesitate to say that the 500 units will not meet the varied and urgent needs expressed throughout Quebec.
“It’s not enough, says Mrs. Laflamme. There are people experiencing homelessness, women victims of domestic violence, Aboriginal people living in urban areas, seniors, people with disabilities, families living in overcrowded housing. All these people are still abandoned and condemned to wait months to have access to decent housing.”
In Suroît, the housing shortage is in full swing. For example, according to statistics available from FRAPRU, in the City of Beauharnois, the rate of unoccupied housing reaches 0%.
«One of the problems is the insufficient rate of housing starts, says Véronique Laflamme. As a result, there is less accommodation available and the prices that are available are incredibly high.»
In order to be considered affordable, the price of rent should not exceed 30% of family income. But, the reality is quite different. According to statistics, in Beauharnois-Salaberry, 3,960 families spend more than 30% of family income to pay rent. Of this number, 1,435 families devote more than 50% to it.
“It’s unbelievably problematic. This means that people who work for low wages have to ask for help from food banks and cut some services. If we take the whole of Montérégie, 23,000 families have to pay more than 50% of their income to pay the rent.”