Housing organizations call for 2500 social housing units on Blue Bonnets

Les Actualités – November 3, 2014.

Les Actualités - Housing organizations call for 2500 social housing units on Blue Bonnets

The Front d’action populaire en réaménagement urbain (FRAPRU) is currently conducting a Quebec-wide tour to present the findings of its report on housing data from the 2011 National Housing Survey, titled Dossier noir sur le logement et la pauvreté.

FRAPRU, Project Genesis and OEIL Côte-des-Neiges are asking the Quebec government not to cut or cancel the financing necessary to build 50,000 new units of social housing throughout Quebec over five years.

There is no other word than “miserable” to describe the situation of tenants in Côte-des-Neiges, said François Saillant, coordinator of FRAPRU during a press conference on November 3.

Based on statistics from Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, only 9 new private market rental starts were initiated since 2011 in the area encompassing Côte-des-Neiges, NDG, Outremont, Côte St. Luc, TMR, Westmount, Hampstead and Montreal West. Meanwhile, 1597 new condominium units were initiated, said Christopher Schwartz, community organizer at Project Genesis. Private developers have abandoned building new rental units in the neighbourhood, according to Schwartz.

In this multicultural neighbourhood, tenants account for 79% of households.  5,675 households – representing 46% of neighbourhood tenants – pay more than the recommended 30% of their income in rent. Of these, 9,215 households (27% of all tenants) pay more than half of their income. 5,060 or 15% of tenant households, spend more than 80% of their income in rent – that is 15% of tenant households, said Saillant.  “The scale and gravity of housing problems seen in Côte-des-Neiges surpasses by a wide margin the already difficult conditions seen across the City of Montreal.”

Côte-des-Neiges has lower than average tenant incomes and higher than average rents. Median tenant household income is $29,900, $2,800 less than the Montreal average. Median rent – $716 per month – is $32 higher than the city average.

From 2006 to 2011, average tenant household incomes rose only 4.5% while rents rose an average of 10%.

The situation for new immigrants is “scandalous”, according to Schwartz. 6,220 tenant households who arrived in Canada between 2006 and 2011 live in Côte-des-Neiges.

The NHS found that 51% of  recent immigrants spent more than 30% of their income on rent, 32% more than 50% of their income, and 19% more than 80% of income.

Furthermore, 39% of recent-immigrant households live in an overcrowded dwelling, while the average is 22% in the neighbourhood and 12% city-wide.

This situation underlines the need for the Blue Bonnets site to be developed with at least 2500 units of social housing on the site, according to Schwartz.

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