Verdun’s social housing initiative could be model
By Tracey Arial
Verdun borough Mayor Jean-François Parenteau recently agreed to build only social housing on a municipally-owned lot on Gaetan Laberge instead of a larger project containing both condos and social housing.
“People don’t want those units too close to home,” said a condo developer in response to a question about integrating social housing into his projects. “They’re afraid that their property values will go down.”
Boroughs don’t like lower property values either, nor do they appreciate handling security and social problems that can develop in large impoverished neighbourhoods.
“Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and PEI each have more than a year of inventory to absorb,” wrote Robert Kavcic, a senior economist with BMO Financial in June. “In most cases, those are decade highs that exceed even levels seen at the height of the Great Recession.”
Some non-profit housing options exist, but most of today’s pure social housing units were created with federal and provincial government financing in the ‘60s and ‘70s.
Some imaginative local politicians reacted to ensure that the units remained accessible to low-income people. In Pierrefonds for example, local politicians helped tenants turn a 750-unit building called Cloverdale into Canada’s largest housing cooperative.
As inspiring as that project was, other regions didn’t duplicate it. LaSalle Heights was owned by the same person, but instead of following the coop creation model, it was sold to private for-profit interests in 1988.
The only social housing that is tracked carefully is that managed within the provincial
HLM program. The Office municipal d’habitation de Montréal (OMHM) operates 20,810 low-rent apartments within this program, while the Office municipal d’habitation de Laval (OMHL) operates another 1,120.
Unfortunately, almost all of the apartment buildings in the program were built in the ‘70s, so they require annual maintenance and occasional renewal projects that creates inconveniences for everyone and give the program a bad name.
Hundreds of former residents of a building on Plamondon, for instance, are currently housed elsewhere while the building gets decontaminated from mold and renovated. The process is expected to take two years.
ga(‘create’, ‘UA-45892555-1’, ‘auto’);