Montreal

Canada to invest $1.5B to create affordable housing, support families in Quebec

Federal Liberal House Leader Pablo Rodriguez and Quebec’s housing minister, Andrée Laforest, made the joint announcement Friday, saying $338 million will be used to build 1,300 housing units to be created by the end of 2022.

Quebec housing minister says new units will be built in different cities across province

Homelessness is an ongoing problem in Montreal and across Quebec, with hundreds left without a home after July 1 this summer. (Ivanoh Demers/Radio-Canada)

The Canadian government is investing $1.5 billion in affordable housing in Quebec and in support for families in precarious situations.

Federal Liberal House leader Pablo Rodriguez and Quebec's housing minister, Andrée Laforest, made the joint announcement Friday, saying $338 million will be used to build 1,300 housing units by the end of 2022.

These homes will not only be in Montreal, but also in Quebec City, Laval, Gatineau and Longueuil.

"We want to increase the housing supply in all regions of Quebec," Laforest said.

Laforest said the pandemic and the increase in working from home has pushed people out into the regions, creating a need for more housing outside of large cities. 

Project proposals must be submitted before Oct. 21, she said.

This announcement marks the second phase of the federal government's Rapid Housing Initiative (RHI) which falls under the country's National Housing Strategy.

A total of 1,491 affordable housing units promised in October 2020 as part of the first phase "is going very, very well," said Laforest.

Under this second phase, Quebec's housing allowance program will be boosted from $80 to $150 per month within four years. The program helps people 50 and up who have at least one dependent child.

Quebec will invest $684 million in the program, while Canada will add $454 million.

These investments "will help, in all, 145,000 Quebec families," said Rodriguez, stating the goal of "eliminating chronic homelessness by 2030."

Homelessness is a problem throughout Quebec, from Gatineau to the Magdalen Islands, but it is most heavily concentrated in Montreal where advocates say it is difficult to estimate how many people are either living on the streets or precariously without a permanent place to call home.

Even before the pandemic, though, these groups were warning the city was in the grips of a housing crisis.

Vacancy rates were hitting 15-year lows on the island, while rents shot up past inflation. Last year, average rent in the greater Montreal area increased by 4.2 per cent, the largest annual increase since 2003, according to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.

In Montreal alone, there are 24,000 families or people on the city's waiting list for subsidized housing. It's not uncommon for the wait to last years.

One day after Moving Day in Quebec this year, more than 500 tenant households in the province were left without housing — the highest figure in 20 years. 

Last year, 373 households — from single renters to entire families — were without a lease on July 2 across the province.

with files from La canadienne presse

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