Tenants’ rights advocates in Cote-Des-Neiges are outraged after learning that dozens of units in the borough are standing vacant because the city has yet to repair them.

Included in that number are seven apartment buildings containing 52 units on Barclay St. that suffer from extensive water damage, crumbling foundations, broken windows, heavy rust on balconies and stairwells.

“I was shocked, we were astonished,” said Canadian Tenants’ Association spokesperson Claude Dagneau. “Because we’re all looking for places to create new low-rental housing.”

Dagneau said buildings were supposed to be converted into affordable housing to be managed by the city.

“These are buildings that were acquired by the city at the end of the 80s,” he said.

The association was tipped off by a neighbour complaining of the empty units. Dagneau’s colleague Sophie Lanno-Cyr said what’s surprising is that the city, and not a private landlord, was the one who allowed the buildings to fall into such disrepair.

“They’re at the same state as the worst buildings in the area,” she said. “They’re not private buildings, so it’s very surprising.”

A backlog of people – 1,200 families in Cote-Des-Neiges alone – looking for low-income housing has the association questioning why these buildings were so neglected.

“There’s a huge and urgent need for social housing in the neighbourhood of Cote-Des-Neiges,” said Lanno-Cyr. “There’s tenants who come and see us at our office who’ve been waiting seven, nine years for an apartment like this one.”

The city’s housing department said a lack of budget for dealing with expensive issues like mould have kept them from renovating but added there are plans to begin major repairs next year if funding from the province comes through.