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The number of HLMs in very poor condition has increased by 27% in 14 months

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The number of low-rent housing (HLM) deemed to be in “very poor” condition has increased by 27% in as little as 14 months, a situation that a tenants’ association attributes to the “laxity” of the Legault government in terms of dwelling.

• Read also: ‘When you’re no longer able to afford simple Tylenol, there’s a problem’: Welfare recipient struggles to pay subsidized rent

According to data obtained and then compared by our Bureau of Investigation, the number of homes rated E – the worst rating – fell from 10,582 in May 2022 to 13,400 last July, out of a total of around 71,500.

This represents almost one in five dwellings in Quebec. On the island of Montreal, it’s two out of five.

“The setback in the renovation of the HLM park, the CAQ government is responsible for it. They slept on gas,” laments Robert Pilon, spokesperson for the Federation of Low-Rental Housing Tenants of Quebec (FLHLMQ).

Among the issues affecting HLMs rated E, we find in particular mold, poor insulation, a roof at the end of its life and dilapidated windows, gives as an example the FLHLMQ.

Damage caused by water infiltration was sealed by a piece of cardboard in a Montreal HLM.

Pascal Dugas Bourdon / QMI Agency

Decline in investments

During its mandate, from 2015 to 2018, the Liberal government of Philippe Couillard planned an annual budget of $343.4 million for the renovation of low-income housing. In 2020, however, the Legault government reduced this amount to $300 million, a rate that it has maintained for the years 2021 and 2022, confirm the figures from the SHQ.

“We don’t even match the budget of five years ago, but the cost of renovations has doubled, even tripled,” laments Mr. Pilon.

According to him, this lack of investment has contributed to the housing crisis, since 4,000 homes are in such poor condition that they cannot be inhabited.

This is without counting those who resign themselves to living in these dilapidated dwellings, but who suffer from it (see other text).


The hallway floor of an HLM in Montreal is in poor condition.

Pascal Dugas Bourdon / QMI Agency

Hope

The implementation of a new renovation program last June gives hope that the situation will improve. Some $2.2 billion will be available over the next few years to renovate low-income housing, under an agreement between Quebec and Ottawa.

“We are very happy about it, but it is a huge challenge for the Minister of Housing, France-Élaine Duranceau. We are not convinced that she has at heart the rapid renovation of HLM. She must now prove herself,” says Mr. Pilon, who deplores the fact that the minister has so far refused to meet with his organization.

For its part, the Société d’habitation du Québec (SHQ), the public body responsible for financing the renovations of HLMs, says it is “well aware of the state of the stock”, but denies compromising the health of tenants. .

She argues that an E rating does not automatically mean that the place is unsafe and unsanitary, but rather that the projected cost of the renovations is equivalent to more than 30% of the value of the building.

For its part, Minister Duranceau’s office indicates that the SHQ plans to allocate $588 million this year for the renovation of low-income housing.

  • Listen to the interview with Robert Pilon, spokesperson for the Federation of Low-Rental Housing Tenants of Quebec on the Alexandre Dubé show via QUB-radio :

His HLM makes him ashamed

A resident of an HLM in Montreal is so ashamed of the state of her apartment that she no longer dares to receive her loved ones at her home.

“I would like that, to have something beautiful, clean, decent. I would like to invite people to my house, but… it’s very hot and it smells of mould,” laments Suzanne Payant, who lives in a “very bad” HLM in the Sud-Ouest borough.


Suzanne Payant, who lives in a low-rental housing project in Sud-Ouest, in Montreal, asks only to live in a decent place that is in good condition.

Pascal Dugas Bourdon / QMI Agency

Repeated water damage, plastered walls and ceilings, faded floors; this building on rue Notre-Dame is far from inspiring well-being and comfort.

moving wall

In Jimmy’s home, one of the walls recedes outwards at the slightest pressure, our Investigation Office has seen.

“When there are gusts of wind, the wall moves. Sometimes I’m afraid he’ll fall down, ”says the man who has lived in this accommodation for eight years.


The wall of Jimmy’s apartment is not only damaged, but it sinks at the slightest pressure.

Pascal Dugas Bourdon / QMI Agency

On the fourth floor, accommodation is uninhabited, despite the crying need for inexpensive accommodation. And for good reason, it was ravaged by a fire.

“It was a year and a half ago, and it’s still not settled,” laments Mme Paid.


The house that burned down a year and a half ago is still uninhabitable.

Pascal Dugas Bourdon / QMI Agency

want to leave

Some 150 km away, in Estrie, Mario Girouard deplores the disuse of the housing he lives in. Between the bathroom stained with mold and the walls so thin “that you can hear your neighbors urinate”, he dreams of “sacrificing his camp”.

“I find it hard. But I no longer have the energy to fight against this system, ”drops the resident of Val-des-Sources, whose accommodation is rated D (bad).


Mario Girouard, resident of an HLM in Val-des-Sources, deplores the poor condition of his bathroom.

Courtesy (Mario Girouard)

What are low-rent housing (HLM)?

  • Built in Quebec from 1969 to 1994.
  • 71,500 dwellings across the province.
  • For people with low income, but independent.
  • Subsidized rent corresponding to 25% of the gross salary

Do you have any information to share with us about this story?

Write to us at or call us directly at 1 800-63SCOOP.



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