Media Releases

More social housing for the city to neglect is not a solution to housing unaffordability, MEI study points out

Montreal, June 27, 2024 – Although the state of Montreal’s social housing stock has gone from bad to worse over the past five years, Mayor Valérie Plante insists on building more, decries a study published by the Montreal Economic Institute this morning.

“Those who require housing assistance are being forced to live in deplorable conditions,” states Gabriel Giguère, senior public policy analyst at the MEI and author of the study. “Before purchasing and building more units, City Hall needs to address the fact that it has become Montreal’s largest slumlord.”

As part of its 2050 Land Use and Mobility Plan, the Plante administration aims to see 20 per cent of Montreal’s projected housing stock removed from the market. This would require building or purchasing 161,000 units at taxpayer expense by 2050.

The government-run Office municipal d’habitation de Montréal (OMHM) is the single largest landlord for social housing units in the city, with 20,818 low-rent housing units under its management.

Of those, 79.2 per cent were considered to be in either poor or very poor condition in April 2023. This is up from 47.6 per cent in 2019. The share of housing in very poor condition has increased even more significantly over this period, from 10.2 per cent to 48.5 per cent.

(It must be noted that the OMHM loosened its evaluation standards after April 2023, as highlighted by the latest report from Montreal’s Auditor General.)

Plante recently said in an interview with La Presse: “I wouldn’t say the model is broken, but I am convinced that we can no longer afford, as a large city, to rely on the market.”

According to the researcher, the solution to the unaffordability of housing lies rather in reducing City Hall’s role in housing development.

“It’s a bit rich for Mayor Plante to claim that the market has not worked, given the number of hurdles her administration has added to housing development,” says Giguère. “Whether it’s through taxes on new homes, or longer permit delays, or even the outright obstruction of newbuild housing, her administration has made life more difficult for developers trying to build.”

Montreal’s 20-20-20 bylaw amounts to a tax of up to $10,500 per new housing unit built for projects of six units or more.

Meanwhile, the average time it takes to obtain a residential construction permit has increased from 204 days to 326 days between 2019 and 2023. In the borough of Ville-Marie, it took an average of 540 days to get a residential building permit in 2023.

Since coming into office, the Plante administration has obstructed the construction of projects totalling 23,760 units, according to an MEI study published last year.

The MEI also pointed out that the city’s 2050 Land Use and Mobility Plan aims to add fewer units to the city’s housing stock than what would be built if the average pace of the past five years was simply maintained.

“Developers want to build in Montreal, but this administration does everything it can to stand in their way,” notes Giguère. “Instead of trying to build fewer homes with more taxpayer money, the City should stop preventing the market from filling the need for housing.”

The MEI study is available here.

* * *

The MEI is an independent public policy think tank with offices in Montreal and Calgary. Through its publications, media appearances, and advisory services to policymakers, the MEI stimulates public policy debate and reforms based on sound economics and entrepreneurship.

– 30 –

Interview requests
Natalia Alcocer
Intern, Communications
Cell: 514-974-7835

Back to top