More than 600 Quebec households find themselves without a home the day after Moving Day in the province — a number which could continue to climb in the coming days, according to a Quebec housing advocacy group.
The Front d'action populaire en réménagement urbain (FRAPRU) tabled its annual report Saturday morning — the day after many leases ended in Quebec.
"For the moment, the 600 households identified are accompanied by an assistance service," said FRAPRU spokesperson Véronique Laflamme. She said most people are housed with relatives, others by their municipality or the Red Cross.
"That number is the tip of the iceberg. It's a pale reflection of reality," said Laflamme. She said this number could still rise this month as last year the group saw the situation continue to deteriorate in the days following July 1.
FRAPRU found households across Quebec to be without housing this year. This includes 118 in Montreal, 135 in Drummondville, 55 in Quebec City, 50 in Sherbrooke, 24 in Trois-Rivières and 20 in Granby.
The group says the province is facing a tough mix of low vacancy rates and rent increases.
According to recent data collected from municipal assistance services, FRAPRU found that at least 4,000 households requested help from municipal authorities to find housing this year. Of that number, at least 600 still haven't found housing. Only about 60 of those households are in emergency housing.
FRAPRU says that the number of people in crisis is likely even higher, since some household don't reach out for help.
'Worst housing crisis in recent Quebec history'
Martin Blanchard, a spokesperson for a tenant's rights group, said the province should have seen this crisis coming in the context of rising rents between tenant changes and the emergence of the phenomenon of renovictions — the practice of kicking out tenants, making renovations and then jacking up rents for those who move in.
"This is the worst housing crisis in recent Quebec history," said Blanchard, spokesperson for the Regroupement des Comités Logements et Associations de Tenants du Québec (RCLALQ), in an interview with Radio-Canada's Faits d'abord.
FRAPRU is demanding concrete commitments from parties running in the provincial election this fall, saying the province needs to add 50,000 social housing units over five years, as well as strengthen legal protections for tenants.
Moving Day action plan a success: housing minister
When reached for comment, Quebec Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister Andrée Laforest said July 1 was a "very busy time for our teams," but that a government initiative to help people find housing was a success.
"The action plan for relocations that we put in place has been effective. No one slept on the street," Laforest said in a statement Saturday.
On Wednesday, Quebec government said it would spend $2 million as part of "Operation July 1'' to help people find housing and provide temporary housing and furniture storage for people who can't find somewhere to live.
Laforest said teams are available "seven days week until July 18, so if you are in need, do not hesitate to contact them."
But Laflamme said the government needs to ensure that the aid measures are kept in place until everyone is relocated.
According to the province's housing department, more than 8,000 "social and affordable'' housing units have been built, or have been under construction, since 2018.
The City of Montreal said it's still waiting for Quebec and Ottawa to reach a funding agreement that will allow it to build or renovate 6,000 social housing units.