Montreal social housing – With Montreal now facing its lowest vacancy rates in 15 years, Mayor Valerie Plante announced on Monday they would be putting forth another measure towards their goal of creating 12,000 affordable, social housing units. The city will be exercising their ‘right of first refusal’ on vacant land or buildings in areas where there are significant shortages of rental housing. Using the ‘right of refusal’ basically gives the city the right to be the first allowed to purchase a property on the market, once an offer has been made by another buyer. The city then has 60 days to match the first offer, before it can be sold to someone else. It is not the same as expropriation, because it only applies to properties already on the market that have an interested buyer.
“It’s a solution that will allow us to offer quality housing at affordable prices and to maintain diversity in our neighbourhoods,” the Mayor Plante said at the news conference. Although they are not on the market yet, they have already identified 300 properties they would like to turn into social housing – in Plateau Mont-Royal, Mercier-Hochelaga-Maisonneuve, Côte-des-Neiges/Notre-Dame-de-Grâce, Verdun, Ville-Marie, Sud-Ouest and Villeray-Saint-Michel-Parc-Extension boroughs. Letters will be sent out to the owners of those properties informing them the city would like to turn them into social housing and that they have the ‘right of first refusal’ if they put their property up for sale. “Other areas may be added over time so we can adapt to changing social and community housing needs,” said added.
“I am calling on the other levels of governments to help us reach our goals,” she said during Monday’s announcement, hoping Ottawa and Quebec will kick in with more funding. “We are ready to build. We have the team. We have the structure to make it happen… now is the time for action.” On social media, the RCLALQ, an organization defending the rights of tenants in Quebec, welcomed the initiative on social media and stated ‘there is a glaring need’ for social housing in the city. FRAPRU’s spokesperson, Catherine Lussier said, “It’s a step in the right direction, but it’s still not enough.”