Montreal tenants lead protest over housing shortage

Canada: A Montreal-based tenants’ rights group has led a demonstration in the Cote-des-Neiges neighbourhood to protest against a shortage of housing in the city.

The Front d’action Populaire en reamenagement urbain (FRAPRU) attributes the shortage to a condo boom in the city as well as the prevalence of short-term rentals managed by Airbnb and other suppliers. The group also said it was concerned over the economic situation for low-income renters ahead of Quebec’s annual moving day on July 1.

The Front quoted statistics from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, which show a 1.9 per cent vacancy rate in Montreal and 0.7 per cent rate in Gatineau. The latter location in particular has been affected by flooding and tornadoes, and this has resulted in increased pressure on the local short-term rental market.

FRAPRU spokeswoman Veronique Laflamme told the Huffington Post that the housing shortage was at its worst levels in the space of 14 years. According to her, 161 households in the metropolitan area have used housing assistance services set up by the Montreal Municipal Housing Office since January alone, while 20 of those families are still without accommodation for 1 July.

Last month, municipal affairs minister Andree Laforest revealed that the housing situation in Quebec was under control.

Laflamme argued the government was not taking the situation in Montreal and Gatineau seriously, with some 87,000 properties in the former reportedly spending more than 50 per cent of their income on rent.

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