MONTREAL -- Montreal's moratorium on evictions, a measure inspired by the economic distress of the COVID-19 pandemic, is set to expire in July but housing advocates are warning that high unemployment and rising rents could lead to disastrous results.

“Many are not able to access the emergency benefits and in many cases landlords haven't been at all sympathetic,” said Amy Darwish of the Parc-Extension Action Committee. “We're very, very worried that as the evictions moratorium is lifted, many people could find themselves in the streets in the months to come.”

In Parc-Ex, nearly 40 per cent of residents spend more than a third of their income on rent. The Quebec government has announced $71.5 million to help Quebecers find housing by July 1 but Darwish said residents need to know they won't lose their homes.

“We believe that the eviction moratorium absolutely needs to be prolonged,” she said. “There shouldn't be evictions during a public health crisis and there shouldn't be evictions afterwards either.”

Chantelle Laserriere, executive director of Saint Michael's Mission, said she's already seen the effects of the pandemic on Montreal's vulnerable as clientele has risen 60 per cent due to job losses.

“Given what is possible to happen in the future, it would be wise to prepare for a higher level of service,” she said.