Housing still a source of stress for many Quebec families: survey

Housing remains a high source of stress for many Quebecers, according to a Léger poll released Wednesday.

According to the survey, conducted for the Observatoire des tout-petits, 47 per cent of renters, 55 per cent of single-parent families, 46 per cent of households with an income of less than $40,000 per year, 44 per cent of immigrant families and 34 per cent of Greater Montreal residents are feeling a great deal of stress when it comes to their housing situation.

"These are obviously the families that have been hit hardest by the pandemic, so it's worrisome to know that they are also in a difficult housing situation," said Fannie Dagenais, director of the Observatoire des tout-petits.

The survey finds that three out of five tenants say they've had to change their habits to be able to pay their rent; three-quarters of single-parent tenant families note they are also in this situation.

The Observatoire points out that parents living with high stress may be less able to meet their child's needs.

"A toddler who lives in a house where adults are stressed, where adults have difficulty finding time to give attention to children, obviously that can have repercussions on the child's well-being, but also his or her development," said Dagenais.

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Fourteen per cent of survey participants say their current home does not meet their family's needs, a proportion that rises to 24 per cent for single-parent families, 30 per cent for renters and 32 per cent for households with incomes under $40,000.

"You can have parents living in housing that has sanitation problems, vermin, mould, which obviously has an impact on the development of the children, as well as the well-being and health of the whole family," said Dagenais.

The problem most often mentioned by parents is a lack of rooms for everyone to have their own space, she adds.

"If you have a family with several children, you know very few housing units are available with enough rooms to accommodate large families, so this is also an issue," Dagenais said.

There is the option of affordable housing, which demands less than 30 per cent of a household's pre-tax income.

However, for 61 per cent of parents, finding affordable housing is more challenging now than before the pandemic, a proportion that rises to 72 per cent among renters.

Living in a home their parents cannot afford may also impact children's health.

Kids in this situation are often physically smaller than their peers, possibly because their parents have less money to spend on basic needs, such as food.

This can also negatively impact their physical, emotional, cognitive, language and social development.

-- This report by The Canadian Press was first published in French on June 29, 2022. 

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