Homeless need better rooming houses

A coalition of local homeless advocacy groups released a report on January 20 saying that the City needs to improve the quality and accessibility of Montreal rooming houses.

According to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, rooming houses provide affordable housing for low-income tenants, many of whom experienced physical, psychological, and social impediments.

In a report titled “Rooming houses in peril: the need for action,” the Réseau d’aide aux personnes seules et itinérantes de Montréal (RAPSIM) made 10 recommendations including the expansion of social housing, and the improvement of sanitary conditions in rooming houses.

“We’re speaking out against the condition of the rooms in privately owned rooming houses – the lack of basic health and safety: bedbugs, cockroaches, mould, lack of locks on doors, improper fire systems,” said Marjolaine Despars, community organizer for housing at RAPSIM.

“We’re asking the City to apply its own health, safety, and security regulations more proactively, to do so before it’s too late, before it becomes necessary to shut [the rooming houses] down because of unsanitary and unsafe conditions,” she added.

RAPSIM works with 30,000 people who will spend at least one night on the street in Montreal in a given year.

According to Despars, the precarious situation of many of Montreal’s poor is only exacerbated by the growing trend of urban redevelopment and the replacement of rooming houses with condos and tourist lodgings, especially in downtown areas.

“Many people are at risk of becoming homeless if they lose their room. For roomers that are affected by a redevelopment, their room is often the last bastion separating them from the street,” Despars said.