Châteauguay motel to be converted to social housing in $6M project
Officials in Châteauguay, Que., and in Kahnawake Mohawk Territory hope a $6-million project to convert a motel building into affordable apartments will help with the region’s housing crunch.
The Fédération régionale des OSBL d’habitation de la Montérégie et de l’Estrie (FROHME) acquired the building on Saint Jean-Baptiste-Boulevard, which housed the Motel Rustik and the former Il Vicino restaurant, located right outside Kahnawake.
With funding from the federal and provincial governments, and in partnership with organizations in Kahnawake, the building is to be converted into 31 affordable rental units, with a minimum of five units reserved for people from Kahnawake.
Construction of the units is expected to be completed in December.
“We’re partnering with our neighbour…this collaboration really means a lot,” said Alana Kane, manager of mental wellness and addiction at Kahnawake Shakotiia’takehnhas Community Services (KSCS).
Kane said the Mohawk community, like the rest of the region, is dealing with homelessness and a housing shortage.
“It’s not the same kind of homelessness that I think people really associate…with living on the street,” Kane told CBC Montreal’s Daybreak.
“In Kahnawake we’ll see a lot of couch surfing, people living with relatives…not able to find adequate housing that can meet their needs and that they can afford.”
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She said there are more than 40 families renting in Châteauguay because they cannot find housing in Kahnawake.
While the community does have housing programs, there is a waiting list for affordable housing, according to Chief Alan John Rice of the Mohawk Council of Kahnawake.
“So this will definitely help alleviate some of that,” Rice said.
He said a social services worker would also be present to help residents and provide cultural support.
Rice said he had fond memories of the Il Vicino restaurant, and welcomed the new vocation for the building.
“Most people remember their bruschetta being really good,” said Rice. “So it’s nice to see it being put to use. Being put to a social use that can help people in need.”
South Shore vacancy rate at one per cent
While the vacancy rate in Montreal is close to four per cent, the South Shore’s is closer to one per cent, according to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.
Marco Monzon, general director of Comité logement Rive-Sud said this leaves people with few affordable options and pushing people into homelessness.
“We went from 1,000 people calling us every year to 2,000 people calling us every year,” he said. “Every year for us is a new record.”
Monzon said, while there is social housing in Châteauguay, the rising rents for market rental units is putting pressure on low-income and middle-income tenants alike.
Future tenants of the motel will have access to rent supplements through the Société d’habitation du Québec (SHQ). The total financial support could reach $3.5 million over 20 years, with the SHQ covering 90 per cent of the costs and the City of Châteauguay covering 10 per cent.
While the project is a good first step for the South Shore, Catherine Lussier, community organizer with the housing group Front d’action populaire en réaménagement urbain (FRAPRU) said the lack of affordable housing is so widespread, that it requires more concrete action.
The Quebec budget tabled in March included $416 million between now and 2026-2027, to increase the number of social and affordable housing units, including $247 million to build 3,500 units through the AccèsLogis program.
But Lussier said this is a drop in the bucket and that Quebec needs 50,000 social housing units over the next five years.
“We need to act now because the housing crisis is going nowhere and is just deepening itself,” said Lussier.