The Right to Housing During the Pandemic

Decent and Affordable Housing Is Required to Ensure the Health and Safety of All

 Quebec Premier Legault during his daily press briefing on March 25, addressed the issue of rents due on April 1. He said that he was open to quick suggestions for households struggling to pay their groceries and that are worried about rent payments. He asked tenants to ensure they contact their landlords to make an arrangement, and called on landlords to "show understanding."

It's no secret that even before the pandemic there was a huge lack of affordable, sanitary and accessible housing in many Quebec cities. For years, housing rights organizations have been reporting the low vacancy rate and the abandonment of social housing construction by governments. Nearly 457,500 tenant households already spend more than the standard 30 per cent of their income on rent, including 195,645 who spend over 50 per cent. With the pandemic, a loss of employment could result in finding oneself on the street.

The Premier's statement in no way addresses the concerns of organizations and families who are asking for concrete arrangements with regard to rent payments. This issue cannot be left to the whims of landlords. Knowing that a significant number of Montreal dwellings, amongst other properties, are owned by large private real estate firms, that these landlords are unreachable and that the only person a tenant can talk to is often a janitor, who is there to apply the guidelines they have been given in order to keep their job, the government's response must be a very different one. Within the context of the pandemic, the confinement period and massive job losses, measures must be taken on a national scale so that no one is left on their own, and to ensure that all Quebec tenants are protected. It's a matter of taking responsibility so that no one has to put their health at risk as a result of financial difficulties, or that they must choose between feeding their family, taking care of them or paying their rent.

Having decent, sanitary and affordable housing is part of the necessary living conditions required to take care of one's family and children. When over 30 per cent of income is spent on rent, one's living conditions are unsustainable.

This article was published in

Number 22 - April 17, 2020

Article Link:
The Right to Housing During the Pandemic: Decent and Affordable Housing Is Required to Ensure the Health and Safety of All


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