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Housing crisis: community organizations hit hard

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In Quebec, community organizations have long been hosted by school service centers, towns and religious communities. (Archive photo)


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The housing crisis which is rage almost everywhere in Quebec does not only affect households. Community organizations also suffer the repercussions and sometimes have to relocate at high cost after being evicted.

This is the case for eight community organizations which until recently resided at 1691, boulevard Pie-IX, in the Hochelaga-Maisonneuve district, in Montreal.

The building belongs to the Montreal School Services Center which, for several decades, has been renting its premises at low prices to community organizations. However, at the end of 2022, the eight tenants received an eviction notice due to the obsolescence of the building.

The Tour de lire organization, which works in the field of education and literacy, has been staying there for 50 years. At the start of the year, he had to move to commercial space which cost him almost double in rent.

[If there is] more money to spend on our rent, it's less money to do our activities. It is the less advantaged population of the neighborhood who are penalized in this, explains Stéphanie Thibault, trainer and co-manager at Tour de lire.

The move of organizations like Tour de lire, which are deeply anchored in their living environment, does not only have financial consequences. It also has an impact on the local population.

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For 50 years, people in the neighborhood have known that by going to this place, they can find services and activities to meet their needs, says Ms. Thibault. It truly is a community hub. There is a synergy that allows us to pool resources, identify needs and implement interesting solutions for the less fortunate people in the neighborhood.

These organizations, if they have to move, they no longer necessarily serve their community, points out the general director of the Fédération québécoise des organisms communitaires famille, Alex Gauthier.

And it’s something that exists everywhere in Quebec, not just in Montreal. We also see it in Outaouais, in Bas-Saint-Laurent, in Lac-Saint-Jean, on the North Shore, continues Mr. Gauthier.

In Quebec, community organizations have long been hosted by school service centers, towns and religious communities. The fate of 1691, boulevard Pie-IX, withdrawn from the rental market due to dilapidation, is the same that awaits several other buildings in the province.

Consequently, in the coming years, many community organizations should be forced to move to commercial premises with higher rents.

In the metropolis , the Montreal School Service Center has seven surplus buildings which are currently in the sale process. Six of them are occupied by tenants.

Relocation threatens the survival of many of these organizations, which benefit from modest funding.

Community organizations are, for the most part, under -funded, says Mr. Gauthier. Taking new premises with the rise in rents is becoming a rather worrying problem.

Some organizations, like Tour de lire, are ready to fight to survive. Its managers turned to the Ministry of Education and asked for help so that their organization could continue its mission in Hochelaga.

It’s really an important center in the neighborhood, says Stéphanie Thibault. It is out of the question that this center would simply be wiped off the map for a budgetary issue.

In a written statement sent to Radio -Canada, the Minister of Community Action, Chantal Rouleau, promises to come to the aid of organizations hit hard by the housing crisis.

I am aware of the current difficulties that community organizations have in accessing premises, which is why I am working on a measure that can support them, she indicated.

Based on a report by Élyse Allard

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