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Quebec group calls for more action, less talk on affordable housing

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A joint initiative aims to create 1,000 new affordable and social units in Quebec but as Moving Day inches closer a local social housing advocacy group is calling for less talk and more action.

The new housing units are set to be built in Quebec over the next three years.

"This partnership, I will say, will give us the opportunity to be more agile, to deliver more quickly," said Quebec Housing Minister France-Élaine Duranceau.

The joint announcement was made Friday by Quebec, Ottawa and the Fonds de solidarite FTQ.

The Quebec development capital network will manage the project, which will largely be new constructions with some existing buildings to be renovated.

Its president, Janie C. Béïque, emphasized that Quebec's affordable housing program, the Programme d'habitation abordable Québec, will fund the project. The PHAQ involves the private sector and it's a program that replaced the public AccèsLogis Québec.

"We're confident because things are done differently, that the private sector will be there," said Béïque.

The Montreal-based housing advocacy group FRAPRU is of a different opinion.

"They abolished absolutely the only program that was dedicated for development of social housing. That was also targeted for social housing," said FRAPRU spokesperson Catherine Lussier.

Lussier says there are at least 2,000 social or affordable units in Montreal alone still waiting for funding to get off the ground.

"There is no funding on the table," she said.

One project still on hold is a building in the Plateau on the corner of Laurier Avenue East and Papineau Avenue.

Construction for the 45-unit building was set to begin in 2023 but it's not been a hole-in-one.

Instead of a building or the start of construction, Montreal inaugurated a mini-golf course on the lot on Friday.

"It's just another social option here in the Plateau making an already excellent neigbourhood even better," said Kurt Jansen, a Plateau resident.

With a housing crisis hitting Montrealers especially hard, Lussier says this is another missed opportunity for the city and its partners to act fast.

"We would like for the government to — with all the needs in Quebec — to at least double the amount of social housing right now," she said.

Montreal acquired the lot in 2021 to develop social and affordable housing but it remained vacant for lack of a project.

The 1,000 units are part of the $900 million in federal funding announced in Quebec's fall 2023 economic update.

The Fonds de solidarité FTQ aims to create 2,250 social or affordable housing units by 2027.

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