The defenders of social housing promise loud clashes with the government of Philippe Couillard, among them the establishment of a camp in Montreal's centre-city. The Popular Action Front for Urban Redevelopment (FRAPRU) wishes to set up its camp in the middle of Montreal's city-centre, in a spot that it does not want to reveal for the time being, for an indeterminate amount of time, beginning on May 21st, relayed its coordinator, Francois Saillant, in a meeting. Through this course of action it hopes to attract the public's attention and force the provincial and federal governments to reinvest in social housing; increasing assistance to the poor.
"It will be a little bit like Occupy Montreal, a camp like FRAPRU has set up in the past. In 2008, FRAPRU organized a camp in the city-centre of Quebec for the 400th anniversary of the City of Quebec. It was a long-lasting camp, which was composed of FRAPRU members, the housing poor, the homeless, and activists for the right to housing," explained Mr. Saillant. In Montreal, the camp was tolerated for a long time by the former Mayor, Gerald Tremblay, but it ended up being dismantled.
In order to ensure that its camp will be tolerated, even accepted, FRAPRU will organize a demonstration in order to launch its urban camp and obtain public support from celebrities, explained Mr. Saillant. There, it will hold activities that will be open to all, like workshops and performances. Starting January 12th, FRAPRU also began disseminating short videos where people testify to their housing problems, and in some cases, to the favorable results they have experienced due to cooperative living or HLM (rent-controlled housing).
Another demonstration will be held in Quebec on April 1st, after the federal and provincial budgets. FRAPRU will also participate in the activities of several groups that are against the austerity policies of the Couillard government, in addition to sharing its own action plan. FRAPRU increasingly fears the end of the federal subsidies, as well as cutbacks in the different forms of support to the housing poor from the government of Quebec.
In the federal case, it is the subsidies tied to the mortgage of the building that will end soon. For several tenants of the subsidized housing in question, this interruption risks leading to increases in rent of $200, even $300 or $400 per month, worries Mr. Saillant.
In the provincial case, it is cutbacks in the different support programs that risk hurting people in need. Mr. Saillant fears, for instance, that the Quebec Housing Society will have fewer available funds. He is also worried about the programs for home refurbishment support like Reno-Village or home adaptation for independent seniors.
"There are already cuts, but it's certain that for us, it's just a taste, unfortunately. We are very scared of the next budget and whether the government will put money into the Access-Logis program again. In which case, if they do, it will be a lot less than the current amount and will be reserved for selected portions of the population; for example, itinerants. We are truly afraid. And, at the moment, the signs we have from Quebec are not very reassuring in this regard," confided Mr. Saillant.
Are cuts to public housing programs a good idea? What types of public or affordable housing programs are in your city? Do you agree with subsidized housing? Share your thoughts and stories in the comments below.
Original article, originally published in French, here.
Credits: Data and images linked to sources.