Montreal, April 29th 2020 – On the eve of May 1st, the Regroupement des comités logement et associations de locataires du Québec (RCLALQ) was impatient to know the Quebec government’s housing action plan to help tenant households hard hit by the consequences of the ongoing pandemic. However, the coalition is dissatisfied with the measures announced today and denounces the fact that nothing has been put in place to avoid a catastrophe come July 1st. The Quebec government must ensure that no tenant household finds itself on the street in the midst of the health crisis and must offer more financial assistance for the most impoverished tenants.
The RCLALQ calls into question the double standard of the measures announced today; the first being a loan intended for tenants who are having difficulty paying their rent, and the second being a rent subsidy for households unable to move into their future homes due to construction delays. « With these measures, the government is choosing to subsidize wealthier households that can afford to live in new houses while driving the most vulnerable households into debt, » denounces Maxime Roy-Allard, spokesperson for the RCLALQ.
Rather than offering a non-repayable rent subsidy as requested by tenant rights groups, the government opted instead for a rent loan of up to $1500 valid for 2 months that will be paid directly to landlords. « For the impoverished, indebtedness is not a solution, » denounces the spokesperson. « Already many households cope with extremely tight budgets and adding an additional cost to the coming year will make it very difficult for them to make ends meet. » In addition, this loan is only short-term. « It would be mistaken to believe that the financial difficulties of tenants will be limited to only 2 months, » asserts Mr. Roy-Allard.
Nothing to counter an eventualflood of evictions
At this time when the government is announcing the gradual reopening of the province, the RCLALQ is concerned that this action plan does not provide for an extension of the moratorium on tenant evictions that is currently in effect for the duration of the health crisis. « The government must do everything possible to ensure that no tenant household is left homeless in the coming months, it’s a question of public health. Minister Laforest must absolutely extend the moratorium on evictions for several more months, » the spokesperson said.
Finally, the RCLALQ is deeply disappointed that the housing assistance measures are only being offered to tenants awaiting delayed new construction. « This pandemic is risking many people be thrown out onto the street. The government must extend this subsidy to all households at risk of becoming homeless, » Roy-Allard said.