MONTREAL -- High rent and a lack of social housing are making a bad situation worse for vulnerable women amid the pandemic, according to advocates.

“Rents are just exploding all over Quebec and it's harder and harder to find a decent apartment [that you can afford],” said Catherine Lussier of housing rights group FRAPRU.

FRAPRU is among several housing rights groups calling for 50,000 social housing units to be built over the next five years.

“We have to [quicken] the process. It's impossible that projects for 10 to 12 years to have enough money or investment to put in place the complete project,” said Lussier.

The group is joined by Alliance MH2, a group that advocates for victims of domestic violence. Spokesperson Gaelle Fedida said social housing is especially important for such women who are leaving shelters and need an affordable place to live.

“In Montreal, we refuse three out of four women in second-stage shelter because of lack of space,” she said.

They pointed to a new development project in St-Henri as an example of the slow pace of new units coming on line. While the development is supposed to include social housing for single mothers, none of those units have been built yet.

“If there's no social housing developed, there's no shelter developed,” said Fedida.