Moving day during a housing crisis

    Québec Solidaire presents emergency plan one month before Jul 1.

    QS says their proposed plan would allow the provincial government to help municipalities across the province. Photo: Quebec National Assembly 

    Andrés Fontecilla, the Québec Solidaire MNA for Laurier-Dorion, tabled a motion at the national assembly last Tuesday which would act as an emergency response to an increasingly severe housing crisis. It comes one month away from moving day on July 1. 

    Fontecilla, the housing critic for his party, presented the plan that he says would offer a reprieve in the current housing crisis and aim to address a growing number of evictions of tenants both in Park Ex and across the province.

    “We are greatly astonished, even flabbergasted, by the absence, the silence of the Minister of Housing, Mrs. Andrée Laforest, the absence of announcements concerning this major crisis,” stated Fontecilla at a press conference in Quebec City. 

    “It is no longer the time to discuss whether there is a housing crisis or not,” pleaded Fontecilla, adding that “now is the time to take action.”

    Emergency measures

    QS says their proposed plan would allow the provincial government to help municipalities across the province address the issue in 3 distinct manners.

    It would unlock transfers to municipalities to fund emergency measures for tenants at risk of losing their homes in the short term. 

    These measures would include access o temporary shelter in hotels to evicted residents as well as an increase in information campaigns to inform tenants of their housing rights. 

    “It is time for Minister Laforest to wake up and support municipalities to help tenants who cannot find housing,” 

    Moratorium on renovictions

    The plan would also introduce a moratorium on renovictions, the practice of evicting tenants from their homes in order to perform major renovation work, until the end of 2021. 

    It would also allow tenants to renew their lease even if they had refused it or had been forced to vacate due to major renovations, with the only exception being if the property is immediately rented to a new tenant. 

    The price of rent would also be capped at the maximum cited by the Tribunal Administratif du Logement.

    The price of rent would be capped at the maximum cited by the Tribunal Administratif du Logement. Photo: Matias Brunet-Kirk – NEWSFIRST

    Short term rentals

    The proposed legislation would also work to limit and regulate short-term holiday rental properties in the province, such as Airbnbs. These types of rentals have often been cited as a cause of the increase in rent prices and the decrease in apartment availability in certain areas.

    Quebec Solidaire suggests that the sector be surveilled more strictly to prevent illegal tourist accommodation, such as short-term Airbnb-type rentals, from taking over areas.

    It would also introduce strong enforcement measures such as fines on illegal operations as to “put these dwellings back on the rental market,” read a statement. As of Jun. 6, there were over 30 Airbnb short-term rental listings in Park Extension alone.

    Abusive rent increases

    “The soaring prices on the real estate market not only have consequences on young families who want to become owners,” explained Fontecilla, but specified that “it also affects tenants who are passed on abusive rent increases or who are evicted from their homes outright.”

    “It is time for Minister Laforest to wake up and support municipalities to help tenants who cannot find housing,” said Fontecilla.

    This issue has been of major importance in the Park Extension neighbourhood over the past months, as rent prices and evictions have continued to increase in what has historically been a low-income neighbourhood. 

    Local people

    Park Ex resident Marie-Josée Hudon was threatened with eviction from her apartment on Querbes In April. The reasoning behind the eviction notice was that the building needed major renovations and that she would have to vacate the property for 6 months as of Jul. 1.

    She decided to contest the eviction and subsequently received harassing phone calls from the new owners’ attorney asking her to leave. “Even if I were to sublet another apartment the rent would be double or even triple the amount,” said Hudon. 

    “It’s very worrying, I lose sleep,” said Hudon at the time. The case has since gone to the Tribunal Administratif du Logement.

    Subsidized housing

    Comité d’action de Parc-Extension (CAPE), a local housing group, says they had received over 70 complaints from local tenants being threatened with eviction as of this spring. They are holding a demonstration on Jun. 12 at the William Hingston Center to protest against the increase in renovictions and rent hikes.

    Activist organizations like CAPE have long asked for measures such as these as well as increased investment in social housing. 

    The MNA for the area shares that viewpoint. “It will take more than a handful of HLMs to meet the immense housing needs,” stated Fontecilla of the CAQ government’s response which he says is too little too late.

    According to L’Office municipal d’habitation de Montréal (OMHM), there are approximately 23,000 dwellings in Montreal currently on the waiting list for subsidized housing such as HLMs. Wait times can last anywhere from a few months to several years.

    “So now is the time to act, now is no longer the time to procrastinate,” concluded Fontecilla. 

    “So now is the time to act, now is no longer the time to procrastinate,” said Fontecilla. Photo: Quebec National Assembly