Improving renters’ living conditions
Fighting substandard housing is a priority in Côte-des-Neiges, where for years community agencies have been working together to address serious problems.
The territory’s most recent neighbourhood plan included proactive measures to ensure that all residents can enjoy safe and decent living conditions. This plan gave rise to the Safe Housing Roundtable coordinated by the Corporation de développement communautaire (CDC) de Côte-des-Neiges, which brings together a wide variety of partners. Its creation has transformed collective work on safe housing in the neighbourhood and led to highly relevant initiatives and projects such as the Safe Housing Brigade.
Supported by the Organisation d’éducation et d’information logement de Côte-des-Neiges (ŒIL), the Brigade consists of three community workers who go out directly into the field to meet with residents experiencing housing problems. The Brigade therefore has the capacity to reach out to very isolated people directly where they live and help them in an intensive and sustained way to solve their problems. The team may also initiate collective processes to help tenants from the same building take action together.
Much work remains
Residents in this neighbourhood have to cope with a lot, as over 50% of housing in the area was built before 1961 and is clearly deteriorating. The challenges they face include unsafe conditions that are not resolved despite requests to property owners; repairs and exterminations inadequately carried out; unjustified rent increases; intimidation and threats of eviction; and more.
The Brigade has the capacity to reach out to very isolated people directly where they live.
So far, over 350 of the neighbourhood’s most vulnerable renter households have received support from the Safe Housing Brigade and include seniors who live alone, very new immigrants, people without a legal immigration status, tenants with major physical or mental health issues, single-parent families, and others.
The project has multiple impacts: better knowledge of rights and a better capacity to have them enforced, improved housing conditions, decreased isolation, connections to neighbourhood resources, and a feeling of empowerment and solidarity. Many tenant groups are now forming small, supportive communities.
In a broader sense, the work of the Safe Housing Roundtable, coordinated by the CDC de Côte-des-Neiges, is having a huge impact on collaboration between partners with separate but complementary missions and on the development of collective work to improve housing conditions in the neighbourhood.
The Organisation d’éducation et d’information logement de Côte-des-Neiges (ŒIL) and the Corporation de développement communautaire (CDC) de Côte-des-Neiges received the 2023 Solidaires Impact for their Safe Housing Roundtable and Brigade.
This award recognizes the significant efforts of an agency, a collective initiative or a consensus-building body to demonstrate the relevance and impact of its actions on individuals based on targets for intervention, services and social transformation.