Hundreds of low-income housing units in Montreal are vacant and in need of repair

Social housing

As a tent city continues to grow, and low-income buildings sit vacant, there are increasing calls for more social housing in Montreal.

There are currently 324 social housing units sitting vacant in the city. They need significant renovations: issues like mould, roofing, and plumbing have rendered them uninhabitable.

Quebec Solidaire (QS) is calling on the province and the federal government to step up.

"Ten per cent of the money that we need for social housing comes from the municipality. Quebec and Canada have the most important part of the money," said QS MNA Manon Masse.

The city has nearly 21,000 social housing units, including those vacant residences.

According to the province's grading system, a building that receives an E grade is required to shut down.

Masse said that half of those 21,000 units already have a D or E grade.

"In the next few years, if we don't put enough money (in), it's not just 300 units that will be closed, it's hundreds," she said.

To prevent that from happening, Montreal's municipal housing office (OMHM), the body that oversees social housing in the city, said it needs $150 million annually to renovate the decrepit buildings.

So far in 2020, it's received $58 million total from all levels of government.

Roughly 23,000 people in Montreal are currently on a waiting list for social housing, where rent is determined based on a person's income.

Housing Minister Andree Laforest said in a statement that negotiations on the National Housing Strategy are underway with the federal government.

Until then, the housing office said it has to triage which buildings are in the direst need of repair.   

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