Starting May 21, 2015, the Popular Action Front for Urban Redevelopment (FRAPRU) will establish its "open-ended camp" in Montreal's city center, a camp that has received the support of around 20 celebrities.
The Popular Action Front for Urban Redevelopment hopes that the municipal authorities will accept this "camp for the right to housing," which aims to put pressure on the governments of Quebec and Canada so that they provide better financing for social housing.
During a meeting with the press, FRAPRU presented a list of celebrities who are giving their moral support to this camp for the right to housing. Among them are the comedian, Lise Dion, director Robert Lepage, the comedians Michel Côté, Gilles Renaud, Sylvie Legault, Véronique Le Flaguais, Andrée Lachapelle, film-makers Philippe Falardeau, Bernard Émond and Hugo Latulippe, author François Avard, professors Michel Seymor and Christian Nadeau ... and even Anarchopanda.
"At this time, the federal government thinks it's best to bomb and destroy dwellings that are very far from here; I would prefer that it put that money into the dwellings that we have here," said François Avard, at the press conference.
"What is their intention (the governments')? Do we really want to sabotage everything and turn Montreal into a city with lots of potholes on the roads and a lot of itinerants? Montreal's countenance is becoming poorer and poorer and more and more dramatic. It's abnormal. Is there not pride in this government? Pride is giving one's people what we must and to assure the subsidies that have already been put in place," pleaded Sylvie Legault, who was also present at the conference.
FRAPRU asked for the support of celebrities for its camp with the goal of increasing its chances of being tolerated by the authorities.
Its coordinator, François Saillant, reports that in 2008, FRAPRU had organized a similar camp in Quebec, and that Mayor Régis Labeaume at first had his reservations, but finally tolerated it after having learned that the celebrities supported it. Mr. Saillant has made a call to Montreal's Mayor, Denis Coderre, hoping that he will show the same openness.
Another camp was already established a few years ago at Victoria Square in Montreal. The Mayor, then Gerald Tremblay, had tolerated it for a long time. But the camp was ultimately dismantled by the authorities.
This time, the future camp for the right to housing will be preceded by a walk, whose itinerary will not be revealed in advance, admitted Mr. Saillant.
Activities will be organized, including workshops and shows. The camp will welcome a hundred or so of the housing poor, itinerants, activists, children and disabled people, he clarified, in order to illustrate that this camp will remain tranquil and transparent.
He has also signaled that those in charge will ensure the cleanliness and safety of the sites. "We have given ourselves a code of living," he responded, adding that he would not tolerate any harassment or any drug sales, notably in order to "protect the people present." "We want to make it possible for children to be there," he emphasized.
We are talking about a camp that could last for an indeterminate amount of time. Questioned about the conditions under which the camp would eventually be disbanded, Mr. Saillant responded by saying that "it will be the campers who will decide" when it will be right to do so. But it's certain that "it will be necessary to feel a political will; it will be necessary for there to be things that change" in favor of social housing.
The latest budget from the Minister of Finances, Carlos Leitao, constitutes an additional reason to rise up in favor of a more significant reinvestment in social housing, believes Mr. Saillant. The budget provides for the construction of 1,500 social housing units, but that's just half of the 3,000 that had been financed annually previously. He asserted that these 3,000 were already not enough to respond to demand.
How is public housing handled in your community and is there enough to meet the demand? How have celebrities had an influence on important political decisions in your city? Share your stories and thoughts in the comments area below.
Original article, originally published in French, here.
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