It is the lack of community and social housing that deprives Quebecers of affordable rents, according to a study by the Institute for Socioeconomic Research and Information (IRIS). “Building more will not be enough to remedy the crisis”, maintains the organization.
In a “socio-economic sheet” published Thursday, researchers Guillaume Hébert and Julia Posca conclude that the meteoric rise in the cost of rents and the housing shortage are not the result of a delay in new construction. “Indeed, the number of rental housing starts almost doubled (+102.3%) between 2016 and 2020,” we can read.
But there’s a catch: Most new homes that come to market do so through the private market, the researchers find. Community or social rental housing — from AccèsLogis, for example — is becoming rare. “In Quebec, approximately 10% of the rental stock is made up of social and community housing, while it reaches almost 50% in certain cities such as Vienne. »
In this context, and without regulation, rents go up, deplores the IRIS. In Quebec, the average rent has gone from around $800 in 2006 to nearly $1,000 in 2022, according to data from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation compiled by the Institute. Cities like Gatineau are cashing in. Over the same period, the average rent there rose by more than $300. This is without counting the average rent increase of 13% suffered by Quebec tenants from 2022 to 2023.
“We see that the significant drop in the vacancy rate [des logements] also accompanies the period when there is a more rapid increase in average rents,” adds Mr. Hébert in an interview with The duty.
Buy social housing?
Last week, the Minister responsible for Housing, France-Élaine Duranceau, announced her intentions to finance the purchase of existing buildings to install social housing there. In his view, this would limit the rise in rents and avoid long periods of construction.
His intentions are laudable, maintains Mr. Hébert. “It is absolutely essential: [il faut] removing units from the rental market to make non-profit, social, community housing, etc. At first glance, it seems rather interesting. »
In its file, the IRIS also recommends to Quebec to tighten the regulation: by establishing a regulation of the rents, for example. “The complete ban on Airbnb-type platforms should also be considered, because the current measures to regulate tourist accommodation are easily circumvented,” it says.
Adding new social housing through the usual route — construction — should also not be abandoned, it is stressed. “The example of Vienna shows that the massive creation of social housing is a powerful tool for preserving access to housing over time.
A previous version of this text, which indicated, according to data transmitted by IRIS, that in Quebec approximately 5% of the rental stock is made up of social and community housing, has been modified. It is indeed 10%.