MONTREAL -- Demonstrators gathered in downtown Montreal Thursday to make their demand to mayoral candidates: more social housing.

More specifically, housing advocates called for the creation of 25,500 social housing units in the next five years.

Hundreds attended the event, chanting "social housing is a right" as they made their way towards City Hall.

One of these advocates was Catherine Lassiter of the Front d'action populaire en réaménagement urbain (FRAPRU).

"By developing more social housing units, we can also develop [...] the resilience of the community," she said.

The FRAPRU was one of the organizations behind the demonstration, alongside the Regroupement des comités logement et associations de locataires du Québec (RCLALQ) and the Réseau d'aide aux personnes seules et itinérantes de Montréal (RAPSIM).

The RCACLQ's Maxime Roy-Allard said the event is a response to the mounting housing crisis in the region.

"It's not just in some neighbourhoods, it's all over the city of Montreal, tenants being evicted, facing major rent increases [...] it's a real catastrophe," he said.

According to data from the FRAPRU, there were more families without an address on July 1 than there had been in over 20 years.

As such, housing has been a key issue in the 2021 municipal elections.

On Wednesday, mayoral candidate Valerie Plant underscored her promise to create 60,000 affordable housing units.

Projet Montreal has also proposed the creation of a "responsible landlord certificate" to protect tenants from so-called "renovictions."

Similarly, Ensemble Montreal's Denis Coderre has pledged to help hold landlords accountable through the establishment of a lease registry.

Demonstrators said the city has a responsibility to address the crisis through concrete, fast-acting solutions.

"Montreal has a role to play," said Roy-Allard. 

With files from Christine Long.