Fueled by rising inflation, skyrocketing rents, lack of access to affordable housing, social housing and housing for families, Centraide has launched a major conversation about the housing crisis.
“Housing has a direct effect on poverty and social exclusion,” says the CEO of Centraide of Greater Montreal, Claude Pinard.
“Many people in the Greater Montreal area currently spend too much of their income on rent. They do so at great sacrifice. People deserve to live in dignity. They need an effective response to the current crisis.”
The dialogue, which included a collaboration with the Foundation of Greater Montréal (FGM) to measure the city’s housing vital signs, is part of Centraide’s ongoing efforts to address the scarcity and rising cost of housing in the city.
The crisis is affecting those who are already most vulnerable, in addition to the general population, and means many people in Greater Montreal are living in apartments that are too expensive for their budget, too small for the size of their family, poorly heated or substandard in some other way.
Centraide’s ongoing efforts help shine a light on the scarcity and rising cost of housing in the city. SUPPLIED
Some people stay with family or live with many other people under the same roof to survive, and with the number of repossessions and evictions on the rise, others end up on the street.
“Here in Côte-des-Neiges, we intervene on behalf of a lot of new immigrants and allophones who have challenges related to discrimination that they’re dealing with, whether it be discrimination based on language, race, gender or sexual orientation” says the coordinator of the Organisation d’Éducation et d’Information Logement (ŒIL), Amélie Giurgiuca.
“Often, they don’t know what their rights are, they don’t have access to information and don’t have access to lawyers to defend their rights.”
In addition to the neighbourhood’s demographic makeup and the fact that it’s the second most populous in the city, 46 per cent of buildings in Côte-des-Neiges were built before the sixties. Many of them weren’t properly maintained and aren’t fit to be lived in; either due to moisture, mold, insects, vermin or inadequate heating.
According to Giurgiuca, landlords use all sorts of tactics to discourage families from living in their units, including converting bathtubs to showers.
Combined with the scarcity of two- and three-bedroom apartments and the lack of affordable housing in general, it makes it extremely difficult for families to find adequate housing.
“Every winter, there are families living in apartments that aren’t heated and that are too afraid to say anything for fear of losing the little they have,” says Giurgiuca.
“Many renters are afraid to complain. But when they unite, they’re stronger.”
ŒIL has a sanitation squad that goes door to door in the neighbourhood to let renters know what their rights are and help then unite. In addition to its mobilization efforts, the organization, which received 65 per cent more calls this year than it did last year, provides different levels of support for clients with different needs.
In addition to general information and resources, it provides in-depth services to people who can’t read or write, or speak one of the official languages, either by phone, email, in-person or at home.
It also gives free workshops on a variety of topics that relate to housing, collaborates with neighbouring community groups and organizes manifestations and public consultations to help change the system.
Help Centraide lighten the burden that vulnerable people bear. SUPPLIED
“There is a huge lack of social housing,” says Giurgiuca about one of the systemic problems. “There are currently thousands of people on a waiting list in the neighbourhood.”
Far from the only solution to the housing crisis, creating more social housing and implementing crisis measures to support people who are homeless or facing a housing issue is one of the most urgent needs.
Community agencies that are supported by Centraide such as ŒIL help implement solutions that collectively advocate for people’s rights, support renters, fight substandard housing and promote social housing.
A day to recognize the housing crisis as well as the essential work done by community agencies across the country to improve access to housing for everyone, National Housing Day is held every year on November 22.
This year, to commemorate the important day and show your support, help Centraide lighten the burden that vulnerable people bear and change people’s lives for the better by donating.
A true agent of change, the organization supports a network of 350 agencies and projects every year and implements strategies to break the cycle of poverty and social exclusion.
1 out of 5 people receives our help.
5 out of 5 people benefit from it.
Let’s all lend a hand
Supporting a network of over 375 community agencies also means promoting an inclusive, poverty-free society.