The Gleaner
Opinions

Housing is a right, not a consumer good

But how is this right guaranteed?

In the current context, the right to housing is only guaranteed by social assistance and the minimum wage. Unfortunately, these means of collective protection are no longer sufficient. The cost of rent is rising at an exceptional rate. This is being reinforced by unprecedented increases in the construction industry, an overheated real estate market, and speculation.

This does not consider substandard or unrecorded housing, or even the growing phenomenon of “renovictions.” These problematic issues are fueled by the same factors as those driving rent increases.

Of course, there are municipal housing offices, but the waiting lists are long and the possibilities of development, especially in rural areas, are almost non-existent. There is also the rent supplement program. But, in the Haut-Saint-Laurent, very few to no landlords volunteer to participate, as it is not justifiable from a cost-effectiveness point of view.

In short, without taking anything away from the role of real estate entrepreneurs, it seems essential to me that a larger part of the rental market should no longer be profit-driven. Non-profit organizations should take up a larger space in this market. Initiatives like SOLIDES in Chateauguay, or our project in Huntingdon, are both inspiring and hopeful. As you may have seen in the previous edition of the Gleaner, our organization, Les Habitations des Tisserandes, is working on acquiring a multiplex in order to keep more residential rental units out of the profit and/or speculation market.

Such innovative community initiatives fully deserve the support of the public and governments if we are to meet this growing need.

Geneviève Couture
President of Les Habitation des Tisserandes and director of Ancre et Ailes

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