Montreal community groups, politicians calling for more social housing

People who live in Montreal’s NDG neighbourhood are wondering why, in the middle of a housing crisis, apartment buildings like ones at 5210 to 5222 Walkley Avenue, are boarded up.

A coalition of community groups and politicians, saying they cannot rely on the Quebec government, are planning to find ways to help reopen it and two other social housing units in the area.

The group blames the provincial government for failing to properly fund social housing in the province.

“We see more and more units that are being closed just because of lack of renovation,” Virginie Dufour, Quebec Liberal Party housing critic noted.

She argues that the longer the Quebec government waits to fund renovation projects the harder it will be to do since costs are rising.

“We need significant government policy to change the game on housing,” insists Désirée McGraw, Quebec Liberal Party MNA who’s part of the coalition.

For now, the group is focusing on a 20-unit building at 3950 Cavendish Boulevard, formerly operated by Project Chance which supported single mothers pursuing a post-secondary education.

“This one, unfortunately, is the one that has been closed since 2019,” said Halah Al-Ubaidi, executive director for the none-profit NDG Community Council.

Tenants were asked to leave because of poor maintenance.

Next door is a transitional housing complex, Project 03 On Our Own, which also houses single mothers and remains open for now.

But it also has maintenance problems that worry administrators, who say it is difficult to get things done.

“We have a lot of larger renovation projects,” explained Amanda Murphy, Project 03 On Our Own director.  “We have a lot of the same deficiencies that they had next door, including our heating system.”

The 40-unit building at 5210 to 5222 Walkley near Chester is the other place on the group’s list for reopening, and the third is at 2055 Elmhurst Avenue near Sherbrooke Street.

According to Al-Ubaidi, the shortage of social and affordable housing means people are leaving the neighbourhood.

“We have many services in the community — beautiful schools, beautiful parks,” she told Global News.  “Who will be using that?

Société d’habitation du Québec, partly responsible for funding renovations in the province, said they weren’t able to provide a statement by deadline.


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