Together for Housing

May 15, 2023 •  By Cécile Andrieu
Visuel moteur Agir ensemble pour le logement

New alarming data:
Nearly one in five Greater Montreal households does not have enough income to pay for housing and their essential needs

Montreal, May 15, 2023 – While the current housing situation has been recognized as a crisis, its scope is often more severe than people realize. Close to 360,000—or nearly one in five—Greater Montreal households do not make enough money to pay for their housing and for essential needs such as food, clothing or transportation. After their rent is paid, these households start the month already in the red. The total annual deficit for these households is estimated to be $3.6 billion per year.

This data derived from residual income—an indicator that will be used every year to capture the scope of the crisis—comes from an analysis announced today* by Centraide of Greater Montreal at the Together for Housing event.

This gathering brought together and mobilized over 400 community stakeholders (citizens, community agencies, the business community, institutions, as well as representatives from the three levels of government) to find lasting solutions to the housing crisis for vulnerable people.

“This situational portrait shows that housing is not just about the number of doors we have to build but about the people who are impacted and the communities that are deteriorating. This major crisis is exacting a significant social toll,” explained Claude Pinard, President and Executive Director of Centraide of Greater Montreal. “The cost of housing exerts great pressure on households, especially those with low incomes. We must act together to build a supportive and inclusive society that leaves no one behind or denies people’s right to adequate and affordable housing.”

The cost of housing has a domino effect on other concerning social issues, such as child development, mental health, food security, domestic violence, and homelessness. It has indirect impacts on society in terms of things like health, the economy, education and crime.

Residual income as a tracking indicator

Stakeholders who work in housing all agree that it is important to capture the scope and evolution of the crisis on a yearly basis. To do so, Centraide partnered with community agencies, public health, cities, governments, and researchers. McKinsey Montréal—a partner to Centraide for over 10 years—volunteered to provide a profound analysis and develop a measurement tool that reflects the evolving nature of the housing crisis.

Residual income refers to the money that households have left after paying for their rent and essential needs. A negative budget forces people to turn to community agencies (such as for food assistance) or risk their health and safety (for example, by eating a poor diet, living in substandard housing, or staying with an abusive spouse).

Every year, this indicator will track the number of households living on insufficient income to meet their housing and essential needs and measure the magnitude of their budget deficit. This will help us monitor the impact of our joint efforts to address the housing crisis and take the necessary corrective action.

Acting on the causes of poverty to reduce its impacts

Together for Housing is the culmination of a broad conversation with various stakeholders that began in spring 2022. A diverse working group examined the situation and identified 115 barriers and options related to housing issues. In November, Centraide presented the Vital Signs on Housing report, in collaboration with the Foundation of Greater Montreal and the Institut du Québec, to present the housing situation and its impacts, particularly on disadvantaged households.

About Centraide of Greater Montreal

A true agent of change, Centraide of Greater Montreal takes action in the territories of Laval, Montreal and the South Shore. It regularly supports a network of over 350 agencies and collective projects every year. Centraide is supported by businesses and organizations as well as the general public. It implements strategies and actions to break the cycle of poverty and social exclusion to improve the living conditions of vulnerable people. Last year, its community investment was $59.1 million, which represents over 88% of the money raised from its annual campaign. Over 800,000 people are helped each year by the agencies supported by Centraide of Greater Montreal.

* available in french only