Moving day has come and gone but some Montrealers are still looking for a home as the city’s vacancy rate hits a nearly 20-year low.
The city stepped in to find emergency housing to 28 people, with 98 more households urgently looking for a place to live.
That’s in addition to those trying to find homes through community organizations. It doesn't come as a surprise, said Youssef Benzouine of community group Project Genesis.
“It's not something that just came up like that. Last year there were already warning signs,” he said.
With an influx of new residents, and a rise in apartments being converted into Airbnb units, the city has had to intervene.
“Airbnb is one thing we've heard; between 4 and 7,000 units taken up from the housing market into the commercial market,” said city councillor Craig Sauve.
The city learned to have a Plan B from a similar situation 20 years ago, said Sauve.
“The city wasn't prepared and people were out in the street without solutions. Good thing there's a strong community sector to take them in,” he said.
The vacancy rate in Montreal is the lowest it's been since the 2000s, at about 1.9 per cent. For families, the situation is especially dire because the vacancy rate is just 0.8 per cent for three-bedroom apartments.
“Families are really struggling to find housing that's simply affordable. You can find three-bedrooms but it's so expensive that people can just not afford it,” said Benzouine.
Finding an apartment can be even more difficult for those with pets. Only 4.2 per cent of landlords accept animals.
“This year in particular, there's a housing crisis in Montreal and we are getting people calling us daily, coming to the shelter in tears,” said Anita Kapuscinska of the Montreal SPCA.
The Plante administration vowed to build 12,000 affordable housing units by 2022 and recently tabled a bylaw that will increase the number of affordable housing units in the city. The bylaw would force developers to create or fund social and affordable housing if they want to build in Montreal.