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COVID-19 | Montréal will assist Montréal households during the moving period and beyond July 1

27 mai 2020

Montréal, le 27 mai 2020 -Despite the COVID-19 crisis, the moving period is well underway in Montréal. For a number of vulnerable tenants, especially those who are looking for social and affordable housing, the next weeks are likely to be difficult because of the constraints of the pandemic combined with the shortage of social and community housing. This is why Montréal has implemented a series of measures to assist Montréal households that are planning to move but still haven't found a place to live. 

“Even before the pandemic, we were very concerned about the housing situation in Montréal. Occupancy rates are at record levels, rent prices are rising and in addition to the issues tenants face when looking for a place to rent, it has been strongly recommended for the past several weeks that they not visit potential apartments. Our administration is hard at work with its partners to expand assistance measures for Montrealers who need to move this summer so that no one is left behind,” said Mayor Valérie Plante.

Each year, between 80,000 and 100,000 Montréal households change address. With a vacancy rate of just 1.5 per cent and some 87,000 tenant households that pay more than 50 per cent of their income in rent, Montréal estimated that even before the COVID-19 crisis it would need to help 150 to 200 households this year, a number that is double or triple what it was in 2019. However, due to the impact of the pandemic, the situation could be as severe as it was in 2000, when the vacancy rate fell below 1% and hundreds of households needed emergency housing. Montréal will be ready. 

A steering committee has been formed of public and community partners, along with landlord and tenant representatives, and meets every two weeks to develop joint solutions to housing challenges and respond in real time to the needs of Montréal households. The city is also working with its emergency response coordination centre to organize assistance on the ground. The city's 311 hotline is being used as a one-stop entrance for tenants' questions and the budget for the OMHM's reference service has been increased in order to expand assistance to vulnerable households. The city is preparing to offer lodging and temporary storage to vulnerable households who are unable to move on July 1. 

“We know that for many households this year, moving will be especially stressful. But the city will be there to help. We have the necessary resources to help Montréalers who are having trouble finding a new home. We are calling on all landlords to show solidarity. If you have available homes, Montréal families need them. If your tenant was planning to move out but is now asking you to renew the lease and your dwelling is still available, try to reach an agreement. And if you usually rent your place on Airbnb, we encourage you to offer it to Montréal households instead. We need all the available housing and only by pulling together will we make it through this time of uncertainty,” said Robert Beaudry, executive committee member in charge of housing.

Montréal has also asked the government of Québec for a $5 million emergency fund and prorated subsidy ceilings as part of the implementation of the rent supplement program in order to enhance support to Montréal households in need. 

“As it does every year, Montréal will help households that are having trouble finding a new home. However, the higher levels of government must also do their part. I encourage the governments of Québec and Canada to sign the housing agreement that has been on hold for so many years­. I would like to salute our teams for their work on the by-law for a diverse metropolis, which is a priority for Montréal and its housing crisis, especially knowing the end is not in sight. We must be able to ensure that households in need have access to social and affordable housing, and this by-law will be a great help,” said Mayor Plante.