Montreal wants to protect hundreds of homes from real estate speculation

The City of Montreal intends to use its right of first refusal to protect 78 rooming houses from real estate speculation. These accommodate a total of 1,270 housing units intended for vulnerable populations.

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These rooming houses are part of a number of 82 lots, spread across nine boroughs, on which the City will use its right of first refusal. As a reminder, this right allows it to equalize any purchase offer during the sale of the land it has previously designated.

The measure will have to be voted on at the municipal council, which will begin on Monday afternoon. However, as the Plante administration holds the majority of seats, its adoption is only a formality.

“This is an additional action that will ensure the survival of existing rooming houses and prevent them from disappearing in favor of other uses, such as a hotel or more expensive accommodation,” said Benoit Dorai, head of the housing within the city’s executive committee.

Rooming houses are buildings that offer rooms for rent, the kitchens, bathrooms and toilets of which are shared between the tenants. They are mainly inhabited by poor people, often offering a rampart against the street, or allowing others to get by.

For the City, the measure will make it possible to acquire these rooming houses when they are put up for sale “to preserve access to vulnerable people”.

“By ensuring that these settlements continue to provide accessible housing for all wallets, we avoid the displacement of vulnerable populations. This type of housing is also very important in our fight against homelessness,” added Mr. Dorais.

At the Popular Action Front in Urban Redevelopment (FRAPRU), the City’s initiative is viewed favorably.

“We must do everything we can to protect rooming houses, which are often the last bastion against homelessness, even more so when rents are exploding,” said Véronique Laflamme, spokesperson for the organization.

However, she points out that this is only a first step, and that the City does not yet own these buildings.

“It’s not won, because Montreal will have to make sure it has the necessary funds to buy them, renovate them and transfer them to a non-profit social housing project as it says it wants to do,” weighted Ms. Laflamme.

She also said she was not sure that the City alone would have the financial means to acquire such a large number of rooming houses.

The article is in French

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