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Urgent Need to Affirm Right to Housing
Week of Actions in Quebec Affirm Right to Housing
In the week of February 12-18, actions are taking place in several Quebec cities and towns to demand that the Legault government invest in social housing. The first was in Montreal on Saturday, February 12, to launch the week of actions. The eight other actions during the week are demanding that the Quebec government stop being the instrument of the dictate of private interests at the expense of the rights and the urgent need of Quebecers for housing, in particular social housing that meets their needs and does not operate on the basis of narrow private profit.
Some 500 people marched in Montreal under the theme “Social Housing Now” called by People’s Action Front on Urban Renewal (FRAPRU). Members of several organizations in defence of the rights of homeless people, women, people with disabilities and seniors joined members of housing committees to march through the streets of Montreal, chanting slogans such as For the Right to Housing!, The Choice We Have Every Month, Pay the Rent or Pay the Meals!, Private Rents Push Us into Poverty! and many others. The demonstration ended in front of the Montreal offices of Premier François Legault. Furniture was left in front of the offices, symbolizing the plight of evicted tenants who are unable to find housing in the absence of alternatives.
In her remarks at the end of the action, Véronique Laflamme, spokesperson for FRAPRU, said that everyone knows someone in their immediate circle or in their community who is a victim of the housing crisis. She said that since François Legault’s Coalition Avenir Québec came to power in 2018, only 500 social housing units have been created, while FRAPRU estimates that at least 50,000 need to be built in five years to stop the crisis. While the private sector is responsible for the housing crisis, she said, the Legault government has just set up a new Quebec Affordable Housing Program (PHAQ) that will allow it to provide subsidies to private developers to build “affordable” housing. This is a privatization of housing assistance,” she added.
Véronique Martineau, from the Table des groupes de femmes de Montréal, emphasized how women, because of their social and economic situation, are among the main victims of the housing crisis. Because of financial precariousness and the lack of adequate housing for them and their children, they must too often remain in situations of abuse and violence. She denounced the Legault government’s claim that it wants to put an end to violence against women, but does not take any concrete action to provide them with the economic conditions they need to get out of abusive situations, including social housing.
(Workers’ Forum, posted February 16, 2022. Photos: WF)