Moving puts enormous stress on families. Just looking for a new apartment is stressful enough, taking up a lot of time and energy! For parents, that’s just another major task added to an already full daily burden!
By Geneviève Doray, Director of Naître et grandir
And since landlords are having no problems finding renters, families are often victims of discrimination when it comes to looking for housing, thanks to the presence of children. This, according to FRAPRU, the Front d’action populaire en réaménagement urbain, a housing rights and urban planning activist group.
Even if the Civil Code and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms forbids all forms of discrimination, landlords discriminate in an oblique way by declaring their housing perfect for retirees, single people, or couples.
Not to mention that 6½ room apartments are exceedingly rare on the market.
“It’s a question of rentability. Two small lodgings make more money than one big one,” says researcher Xavier Leloup of the Institut national de la recherche scientifique (National Institute of Scientific Research) in the April issue of Naître et grandir magazine.
Lack of Affordable Housing
Available housing is rare this year, according to the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). And there’s a particular lack of cheap housing on the market. “There aren’t enough affordable units out there, and it’s families with a modest income that are the primary victims of this situation,” says Maxime Roy-Allard, spokesperson for the Regroupement des comités logement et associations de locataires du Québec (RCLALQ), a tenants’ rights organization. The gentrification of many neighborhoods also puts serious pressure on the supply and demand of rental properties.
It’s crazy that a family has to live in housing that risks their health and safety just because they don’t have enough money!
The Impact of Housing on Childhood Development
Because of this unprecedented housing squeeze in Québec, thousands of families don’t have access to an adequate apartment within their budget. Did you know that 1 family in 7 with at least one 5 year old child is forced to live in housing that’s beyond their means?
If you spend more than 30%, 50% and sometimes up to 80% of your income on rent, that means that you’ll have no choice but to cut down on other expenses, such as food. It’s a financial stress that can make parents less available, less warm, and more irritable towards their children.
The physical environment in which small children live can have an impact on their development. Growing up in an inadequate environment can be reflected in their success or failure at school.
According to the Observatoire des tout-petits, a children’s rights group, growing up in housing that’s too small, too crowded or too expensive can increase the risk of a small child suffering health issues, and can impede their cognitive, linguistic and social-emotional development.
Better Living Conditions
It is nonetheless possible to act so that Québec families have access to better living conditions. Governments and municipalities can improve access to housing, notably by developing cooperatives and building new affordable housing units.
Here are two inspiring examples:
- Concertation logement Lévis brings together 20 organizations working to develop more affordable, accessible housing units for families on a modest income. The group has put up a website, logislevis.com, which includes the entire supply of social and community housing available in the city of Lévis, across the river from Québec City. This is a first in the province of Québec.
- The Îlot Pelletier project has changed the face of Pelletier Street in Montréal North. Once known a hangout for criminal gangs, today they’ve created over 200 affordable housing units. Parking lots have been converted into vegetable gardens.