City aims to boost number of affordable housing units

Montreal Gazette, Dec 10, 2015 - The City of Montreal announced some revisions to its social housing policy Thursday which are designed to increase the number of affordable units on the island.

Under the previous ‘Inclusion Strategy’, which came into effect in 2005, the policy applied to new residential developments of 200 units or more. Developers are still required to set aside 15 per cent of a project for social housing and 15 per cent for affordable housing.

But the threshold has been lowered to 100 units under the new policy unveiled Thursday.

“When you’re increasing the height or density (of a project), the promoter is getting an advantage with those changes,” said Russell Copeman, the borough mayor of Côte-des-Neiges-Notre Dame de Grâce who is also the city executive committee member in charge of housing, urban planning, management and real estate planning.

“Therefore, we’re imposing the application of an affordable housing strategy, which is 15 per cent social housing and 15 per cent affordable housing within new developments.”

The policy will be applied to Montreal and its 19 boroughs, said Copeman.

“The (changes) greatly simplify and harmonize the application of the (Montreal Inclusion Strategy). It will be easier to understand and to put into place. One of the comments we frequently heard from developers was the complexity of the program and differences of its application throughout the City of Montreal.”

Copeman said the boroughs were consulted on the changes.

“We did not get any particularly controversial pushback from any of the 19 boroughs during the consultation process.”

Producing more affordable housing units is one of the key elements in retaining young families in Montreal, Copeman added.

“More families leave the island of Montreal than establish themselves here. However, in the last four years the negative balance has declined.”

François Saillant, a coordinator with FRAPRU, a social housing advocacy group, liked some of what he heard at the press conference, but said more social housing is still needed in poor areas of Montreal.

“But the fact there are 15 per cent (of projects) for social housing, for us it’s insufficient,” Saillant said.

“When you look at the realities of neighbourhoods where these projects are built, if you are talking about Hochelaga-Maisonneuve or Sud-Ouest neighbourhoods, it’s insufficient.”

Link to Story