Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre is attending a summit on sustainable urban development in Quito, Ecuador on Monday but advocates say his administration must do more to promote low-cost housing in the city.

“The rent for two-bedroom apartments of $2,200, it’s not affordable housing,” said FRAPRU coordinator Francois Saillant.

He noted that more than 100,000 tenants spend more than half of their income on rent and 50 per cent of them risk becoming homeless because they spend more than 80 per cent of their pay cheques on housing.

“There are 25,000 tenants on the waiting list for public housing and many thousands more for co-op non non-profit housing,” he said. “This is an emergency situation.”

With Montreal in the midst of a condominium boom, advocates say competing for land is getting increasingly more difficult. Some are calling on Montreal to reserve more space for social housing projects.

Among the territory they have singled out if the former sites of hospitals and unused land like the Blue Bonnets Raceway in Cote-Des-Neiges, vacant since 2009.

“The city of Montreal has to do something because these possibilities will escape and we’ll lose these opportunities to condo projects,” said Saillant.

Saillant also floated the idea of land being shared between condo projects and social housing developments.

Real estate broker Nathalie Clement said that might work on paper but it’s not an easy sell.

“Very often, the people who will buy the condos will not want to live with social housing,” she said. “That’s a syndrome that is universal, unfortunately.”