One in five households in Greater Montreal cannot meet their basic needs, according to a study by Centraide. The study reveals that 360,000 households in the region, stretching from Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu to the northern suburbs, do not have sufficient income to pay for rent and essential needs. For Park-Extension it is certainly bad news as housing continues to be more and more difficult.
The event “Acting Together for Housing” organized by Centraide du Grand Montréal aimed to shed light on the housing crisis in the metropolitan region of Montreal. The study conducted by McKinsey, the first of its kind for Greater Montreal, measures residual income, which is the amount of money people have left after paying taxes, rent, and essential needs. According to the study, a minimum income of $28,000 is required to avoid falling into a negative financial situation. Below this threshold, individuals either go into debt or have to cut back on essential expenses, resulting in negative residual income.
The study reveals that one in five households in Greater Montreal, or 19%, lack sufficient income to pay for rent and cover their essential needs. In other words, after paying rent, there is not enough money left for proper nutrition, clothing, and transportation. Based on data from Statistics Canada, the estimated annual residual income deficit for the 360,000 households surveyed amounts to $3.6 billion. The root cause of the problem is the high cost of housing and the severe lack of social and affordable housing options.
Throughout Quebec, including the greater Montreal area, the housing shortage primarily revolves around a lack of affordable housing. The Minister responsible for Social Solidarity, Chantal Rouleau, emphasized this point during the event’s opening remarks. The Grand Montreal region has only 4.9% social housing compared to Toronto’s 7%, despite 46% of households being renters in Montreal compared to only 40% in Toronto. Canada as a whole ranks 21st out of 34 countries in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in terms of social housing availability. The OECD average is 6.9%, a figure that Montreal should strive to achieve. Currently, only an average of 1,400 subsidized housing units are built per year in Greater Montreal, whereas approximately 5,040 units per year are needed to reach the OECD average by 2030.
The construction of unaffordable housing has outpaced the construction of subsidized housing in recent years, leading to a shortage of affordable housing options. Rental vacancy rates are well below the balanced threshold of 3% across all sizes of units, from studios to three-bedroom apartments.
The Quebec government, which previously denied the existence of a housing crisis, has finally acknowledged the issue and is taking action. The Minister responsible for Housing, France-Élaine Duranceau, acknowledged the magnitude of the crisis and promised a forthcoming action plan for housing, a new affordable housing program with project calls starting next month, and a bill to restore a better balance between tenants and landlords.