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QS calls on government for plan to tackle homelessness and housing crisis

Valérian Mazataud Le Devoir According to the most recent data from the Ministry of Health and Social Services on homelessness, the number of visible homeless people increased from 5,789 in 2018 for all of Quebec to 10,000 people as of October 2023.

Katrine Desautels – The Canadian Press

January 14, 2024

  • Quebec

Quebec is experiencing a marked increase in the number of people experiencing homelessness and the lack of housing is contributing to this. Faced with the glaring issues related to homelessness, Québec solidaire (QS) is asking the Legault government to present a joint strategy on homelessness and housing for 2024.

In a press release published Sunday morning, QS affirms that the resources do not have the means to resolve the homelessness crisis on their own. He points out that we see camps almost everywhere in Quebec and that there is a lack of space in shelters.

The training reports camps in cities such as Joliette, Drummondville, Granby, Trois-Rivières, Rouyn-Noranda and Saint-Georges.

“In the big centers, it exploded. The places where there was once homelessness, there is still today, but it is spreading, declared the MP for Taschereau, Étienne Grandmont, in an interview. The cases reported in the media and reported to us by [municipal] elected officials are more and more numerous and more and more worrying. »

Mr. Grandmont mentions that the increase in the number of homeless people is directly linked to the housing crisis, which the Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) has allowed to worsen, according to him.

He therefore asks the Minister of Housing, France-Élaine Duranceau, and the Minister responsible for Social Services, Lionel Carmant, to remedy the situation by presenting a joint action strategy on homelessness and housing.

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According to Mr. Grandmont, facilitating the construction of private housing, as proposed by Minister Duranceau, is not a solution. “That’s what she’s trying to achieve with her Bill 31, but that won’t meet the needs. It is not by increasing the offer that we magically provide solutions to people experiencing homelessness. »

Quebecers in precarious situations need to be supported and private sector housing is often not accessible to them, explains the supportive MP. He also considers that the investments proposed by Ms. Duranceau for the creation of social housing are largely insufficient.

In its 2023-2024 budget, the government announced an investment of $650 million to increase and maintain the stock of social and affordable housing.

More recently, Ms. Duranceau announced that 1,000 additional affordable housing units could be built as part of the Quebec Affordable Housing Program, the last call for projects took place from June to September 2023.

Measures deemed insufficient

According to the most recent data from the Department of Health and Social Services on homelessness, the number of visible homeless people — the most well-known form of homelessness which represents people who live on the street or in shelters — went from 5,789 in 2018 for all of Quebec to 10,000 people as of October 2023.

In its 2022 report entitled “Homelessness in Quebec — second portrait”, the Ministry of Health and Social Services recognizes that there is a link between the housing crisis and homelessness.

“The issues linked to the commodification of housing and real estate speculation, which reduce the availability of affordable housing, waiting lists for social and affordable housing, pressing housing needs, the rate of effort [share of income] spent on paying rent and evictions can be considered determinants of homelessness,” the report reads.

Mr. Grandmont said the government always offers emergency amounts when the temperature starts to drop. We have to move away from this logic of emergency when winter arrives, he says.

“What we want is that eventually, after a few weeks or months, we have been able to identify them, support them, we have built a bond of trust with them, we gradually lead them to regain confidence to bring them peacefully towards housing and reintegration, describes Mr. Grandmont. It’s not just in the fall and early winter that you have to start doing this. »

The solidarity MP believes that Minister Carmant's investments are insufficient to respond to the homelessness crisis. He asks that year-round funding be dedicated to resources.

He also wants investments in transitional housing and housing that meets the specific needs of homeless people. “We need a response that goes beyond simple shelters, a much more ambitious solution,” maintains Mr. Grandmont.

Homelessness also constitutes a public health issue, according to solidarity, particularly because of the issues of overdoses linked to homelessness. He thinks that Minister François Bonnardel should be one of those who put a strategy in place.

Mr. Grandmont hopes that the CAQ will propose solutions to the homelessness crisis in Bill 31 as well as in the next budget. “Because we are letting a situation rot that tomorrow morning will not be any better. “It's not going to be resolved magically, we're in a vicious circle right now and we need to get out of this,” he pleads.

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116