The Comité d’Action de Parc-Extension’s call for more Social Housing

Amy Darwish and her troupe gathered at two locations, presenting actions in hopes for a change and a dedication by the municipal and provincial government in favor of providing more social housing for one and all

Part of a week of action leading up to Quebec’s announcement and economic update, I spoke to Amy Darwish after the event and she said it went well but unfortunately it didn’t seem to land with the government just yet, but Amy, who acts as community organizer with the committee remains hopeful. “No announcement by Premiere Legault but the fight continues, “ Amy said. “We’re going to continue to put pressure on the city, the province. The Legault administration hasn’t delivered on what he promised, making units available.”

Demonstrations at these sights

Two actions were held last Thursday and at two locations. One site was on Jarry West … tenants are fighting the demo of a building; construction will create a high end condo, the committee is demanding that this project not go through. It is owned by a private owner.

The 2nd site: 7965 de l’Acadie; it is currently abandoned and up for sale. The city does have right of first refusal; the committee is calling on the city to purchase it for social housing. Actions were held: Thursday morning at 8:30 am before economic update.

The Hutchison building was a good start

She is definitely in favor of the municipal government coming in and buying out a private owner that wanted to make high end condos at the old Johnny Brown building, and she says that this is a good start. She just wants to see more of this and at many other locations in Park Ex. ”Fight the gentrification of the neighborhood and keep tenants that have a lower income , immigrants, in it.”

The picture speaks a thousand words and more … the community needs social housing to thrive …. It cannot be turned into a neighborhood full of high end condos, essentially pushing out the lifeblood of the community—those with lower incomes, feels Darwish

A call to one and all

She took to the page and in hopes of attracting some positive feedback by the government, specifically Legault in this case. This is what she had to say:

“On the day of the economic update, the Comité d’Action de Parc-Extension (CAPE) called on the Legault government to finance the construction of new social housing.  Today, they installed oversized posters in front of 690-700 Jarry West and on 7965 de l’Acadie, two buildings at the heart of mobilizations for social housing in the neighbourhood.  Around forty of these posters will also be installed by other members of the Front d’action populaire en réaménagement urbain (FRAPRU), in many Montréal neighborhoods and across the province. At a time when the housing crisis continues to unfold, and when the pandemic aggravates the problems faced by those who are low-income and poorly housed, CAPE is concerned by the lack of a proactive approach on the part of the Quebec government where social housing is concerned. Currently, the Legault government isn’t even doing what is needed to fulfill its election promise to deliver the 15,000 social housing units promised by their predecessors.  In the last two years, only 2,500 units have been built. Not only has the Legault government not announced the funding of new social housing since the beginning of his term, which slows down the development of eagerly awaited projects in Parc-Extension, but we have no news about the use of federal funding, more than a month after an agreement with Ottawa was reached. According to CAPE, the government has no choice but to act quickly. Rent constitutes a disproportionate part of tenants’ budget, notably at the expense of access to food and other necessities. The public health crisis has only aggravated the situation of many tenants, according to the committee. The significant number of people who found themselves homeless in the last few months in Montreal, often following evictions, highlights the absence of alternatives to make up for the unaffordability of the rental stock. The housing rights organization also noted that beneath the most visible examples of the current crisis, there are thousands of Montrealers who must choose each month between paying an increasingly higher rent or eating. In the last Census in 2016, 44 % of tenant households in Park Extension were already spending more than a third of their revenues to house themselves. The situation has worsened with the rapid gentrification of the neighborhood in the last few years. After a loss of revenue, an eviction or a situation of violence, people often have to wait months, sometimes years to access low-cost housing. The safety net, when it comes to housing, is largely insufficient. The minister of Housing, Andrée Laforest, recently affirmed that housing was a priority for her government. The CAPE is calling Coalition avenir Québec (CAQ) to act accordingly. With the FRAPRU, the CAPE asks the Legault government to use the economic update this Thursday to accelerate the construction of social housing. The organization hopes, on the one hand, more investment that would allow the realization of one part of the new social housing units linked to the agreement with the federal government and, on the other hand, the addition of missing amounts for the delivering of the 13,000 units that were already planned by previous governments, but not delivered yet. Along with FRAPRU, the CAPE is already announcing its demand ahead of the next budget, by urging Quebec to adopt a long-term vision to end the crisis for good. To do so, a multi-year investment strategy must be planned to allow a significant increase in the proportion of housing outside of the private market, by launching a province-wide program for 50,000 social housing units in 5 years, including 22,500 in Montreal.”

“Eat the rich…Take one bite now – come back for more…Eat the rich…I gotta get this off my chest…Eat the rich…Take one bite now – spit out the rest…” –Steven Tyler/Joe Perry

“Gentrifiers focus on aesthetics, not people. Because people, to them, are aesthetics.” -Sarah Kendzior