The housing crisis affecting the rest of the province has not spared the Haut-Saint-Laurent, where there is a dire shortage of affordable housing options despite new residential developments going up in several municipalities.
Home sharing may offer a solution to this issue, but finding a home or a compatible individual to live with can be difficult or overwhelming. A group of community organizations and area businesses have united to create Les Habitations Partagées, an innovative shared-housing initiative aimed at tempering the housing crisis without relying on new social housing construction.
Around 20 people gathered on November 14 in Ormstown to learn more about the initiative, which aims to pair home seekers, or those who are looking for affordable housing, with compatible home providers who are currently living alone with room to share. “There are so many lonely people living in large homes; why not use this untapped resource to increase the supply of housing in our region?” said Joanie Gravel, the director of the Habitations des Tisserandes social housing complex.
The Habitations des Tisserandes has partnered with Une Affaire de Famille as well as the Centre de recherche d’emploi du Sud-Ouest (CRESO), the CDC du Haut-Saint-Laurent, and Maison Russet to develop this program. Representatives from each organization spoke in turn about their interests in the project. For example, Une Affaire de Famille has experience with pairing individuals through its various programs, while the CRESO works with temporary foreign workers and new arrivals to the region who face additional roadblocks in terms of finding housing. Maison Russet is actively recruiting foreign workers to staff its sweet-potato processing facility in Huntingdon and is finding it difficult to provide adequate housing. All have a vested interest in ensuring more sustainable housing in the region.
“We are here to respond to the needs that are here right now,” said Thomas Gauvin, an immigration counselor responsible for intercultural pairing, accompaniment, support, and employment with the CRESO.
According to Gabrielle Limoges, the director of Une Affaire de Famille, the project was well-received and many of those present were interested in potentially becoming hosts. The model is based on successful initiatives that have taken root in the Outaouais region and in other provinces. For the moment, recruitment will take place through the partner groups’ various networks. Home seekers and home providers will be accompanied through the entire process of being paired, with weekly follow-ups taking place once a compatible match has been made.