A historically low vacancy rate and gentrification are driving up rent prices in the once affordable Park Extension.

Residents of Montreal's Park Extension area say evictions are on the rise amid gentrification one of the the province's poorest neighbourhoods.

Tenants and community advocates gathered at Parc Saint-Roch Saturday to raise awareness, build solidarity and swap cautionary tales as a sprawling new university campus prepares to open its gates down the street.

Samiha Hossain, 23, has lived for two decades in the same apartment, where incoming tenants now pay nearly twice what her family does.

She says several family friends have been evicted from other buildings for renovations, one by a landlord who halved the size of the apartments to double the number of units while boosting the rent.

Amy Darwish, an organizer with Comite d'action de Parc-Extension, a community group, says the past year has seen a ramp-up in housing repossessions, "renovictions" and abusive rent hikes.

She says some landlords now rent exclusively to students in order to increase turnover and allow higher rent increases.

The University of Montreal, whose satellite campus is set to open this fall with a massive new science complex on the edge of Park Ex, has said it is sensitive to how its new digs will impact local residents.

The campus will initially serve about 2,000 students, a number expected to grow nearly 400 per cent over the next two decades as part of a burgeoning artificial intelligence hub in the area.