Sherbrooke once again short on affordable housing

By Gordon Lambie

Sherbrooke’s housing shortage in the week leading up to July 1 this year is “catastrophic” according to Alain Roy, spokesperson for the local renters’ association. Although the Association des locataires de Sherbrooke raised the alarm in 2019 when 20 households were without a place to live in the days leading up to moving day, this year that number has reached 32, with a vacancy rate in the city of only 2.3 per cent.
“The situation is catastrophic not just because of the Covid but, as usual, because of the price of housing versus the revenue of renters,” Roy said, reiterating the association’s annual argument that the apartments that are available in the city are far too expensive for the growing number of people who need a place to live. “What we need is more social housing.”
The association is advocating for the creation of 10,000 new units of social housing per year over five years across the province, 1500 of which would be in Sherbrooke (at a rate of 300 per year).
Pierre Avard, City councillor and President of the board of directors for Le Parallèle, the building management arm of Sherbrooke’s municipal housing office (OMH) said that he feels part of the reason things have become so dire this summer is that no social housing units were built at all in the city in the last year. He shared that there are several projects underway, but added that with a waiting list of over 800 names for a space, many of those buildings have been filled to capacity months before they are finished being built.
Responding to the more immediate crisis, Remi Demers, Deputy Mayor and president of the board of directors of the OMH, said that the city will provide temporary housing and storage of belongings for any families that do not succeed in finding a home by July first, but he also acknowledged that this is not a real solution to the larger issue.
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