The Gleaner
Opinions

Housing crisis: the Haut-Saint-Laurent is in solution mode

Quebec’s housing crisis has not spared the MRC du Haut-Saint-Laurent, where tenants are struggling to find affordable, quality housing. According to data from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, the vacancy rate in the region was just 1.4 per cent in October 2021, which is well below the equilibrium threshold of three per cent. The housing shortage also comes at a time where rents are on the rise, as are evictions and repossessions, which jeopardize the security and stability of low-income households.

The Quebec government announced almost $78 million in assistance to support households looking for housing in the run-up to July 1. Tenant’s rights groups argue this is insufficient and are calling for more investment in social housing and better regulation of the rental market. In their view, the housing crisis is the result of disengagement on the part of public authorities and speculation in the real estate market that favours profit over the needs of citizens.

Social housing offers a number of advantages for tenants and for society in general. It gives low-income individuals and families access to decent, safe housing without forcing them to compromise their budget or quality of life. It also promotes social diversity and community cohesion by creating links between residents and local organizations. It also contributes to the revitalization of neighbourhoods and the fight against real estate speculation, by preserving architectural heritage and limiting gentrification.

Social housing also faces several challenges and obstacles in Quebec. Public funding is insufficient to meet the growing demand for social housing, which results in long and discouraging wait lists. Social housing projects often face opposition from homeowners and residents who fear a drop in property value or environmental degradation. Social housing tenants are sometimes victims of discrimination or stigmatization due to prejudices or clichés relating to their situation.

Fortunately, the community sector and certain municipalities are mobilizing to find alternative solutions to government funded programs, which are simply insufficient to counter the housing crisis. In the Haut-Saint-Laurent, the Association pour la défense des droits sociaux, the Corporation de développement Communautaire (CDC), the Groupe de ressources techniques de Sud-Ouest, and the Housing non-profit les Habitations des Tisserandes have formed a committee. The goal of the Habitations solidaires rurales committee is to increase the supply of affordable housing by preserving existing units while excluding them from speculative markets. The committee is always on the lookout for collaborators who care about the accessibility of housing for all and who would be interested in contributing to this cause.
Joanie Gravel
Les Habitations des Tisserandes

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