Affordable housing advocate group criticizes Quebec government's economic update

A tenant advocacy group is unimpressed with the Quebec government for not announcing any new investment in social housing in Finance Minister Eric Girard's economic update on Thursday.

The urban reorganization group FRAPRU (Front d’action populaire en reamenagement urbain) recalled that on Oct. 6, Canadian Minister of Families, Children and Social Development Ahmed Hussen, as well as Quebec ministers of municipal affairs Andree Laforest and Canadian Relations Sonia LeBel announced a Canada-Quebec agreement to release $3.7 billion over 10 years to improve social and affordable housing.

FRAPRU maintains that the novel coronavirus crisis has worsened the plight of poorly housed people and highlighted the inadequacy of Quebec's social safety net in terms of housing.

In the event of loss of income, eviction or a violent situation that calls for an immediate solution, FRAPRU said that it takes months, even years, to gain access to low-rental housing.

Crier que le gouvernement n’a pas assez investi [dans le logement social] ça créée de l’anxiété dit @AndreeLaforest à l'#assnat. C'est plutôt vivre dans un logement trop cher ou insalubre qui créée de l’anxiété et devoir attendre des années pour avoir accès à un logement social

— FRAPRU (@FRAPRU) November 12, 2020

When the Canada-Quebec agreement was announced, minister LeBel signalled that Quebec retained a right of scrutiny over all projects, and that Quebec would select its priorities and that the Government of Canada should then invest in this selection.

FRAPRU spokesperson Veronique Laflamme accused the Legault government of not doing what is necessary to fulfill its electoral promise to deliver all of the 15,000 social housing units announced by its predecessors. She said that in the last two years, only 2,500 units have been built or are in the process of being built.

FRAPRU adds that at least 370 households found themselves homeless on July 1 in Quebec, twice as many as in 2019, and that 21 are still hosted by the City of Montreal almost four-and-a-half months later. In addition, shelters are full, camps for homeless people are multiplying and shelters and halfway houses are overflowing, according to the organization.

FRAPRU is calling on the Quebec government to include 50,000 housing units over five years in its next budget.

-- this report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 13, 2020. 

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