It is the quiet and cool of a Summer evening in Montreal at Tea at Tympani Lane
Records. infringement Festival Montreal is gearing up on June 13th, certain to
be a good time, check the calendar at
www.infringemontreal.org for shows. I am performing Spoken Word at the
Concordia Coop Bookstore on June 19th at 8 p.m.
“ Poverty is the worst form of violence. “
- Mahatma Ghandhi (Leader of India, Sage, Saint)
“ It is not a sin to be poor, it is a sin to be lonely. ”
- Rebecca Banks (Poet, Singer, Songwriter, Musician, Writer, Artist, Philosopher, Counselor)
The following are thoughts on affordable housing in Montreal . . .
“A qui la ville?! A nous la ville!“ or “Whose Montreal is it? We are Montreal” has launched a protest in St. Henri. A small patch of land at St. Phillipe and Notre Dame Ouest is slated for condo development and this is where “A qui la ville?!” has pitched tents and opened a food kitchen to protest the high cost of rental housing in Montreal. “We are poorly-housed tenants who have had enough of seeing empty building while thousands of us struggle to find a place to live. We’ve had enough of seeing our neighbourhoods in the hands of promoters who only think of profit and who develop the city for their private interests and not the benefit of all.” The local people come by and chat, share food and share in the solidarity of a Community Action for positive change to decrease the high cost of housing.
The rental housing market is obviously a gouge for the consumer, most major cities have exceedingly high priced rental accommodation. In Montreal a basic 3 room apartment – kitchen, livingroom, bedroom and private washroom starts at just over $500. In other cities it is much more than this. With the computerized Economy there is less employment, I suspect less employment is intrinsic to the New Economy as computerized systems streamline processes, making less work in less time. One estimate of unemployment is that only half the employable world population is working full-time, the other half is working part-time, contract work or unemployed, this is creating disparity issues. Most people on welfare have only about $675 per month, it is almost impossible to live in a decent place because the rents are so high. People can room in with each other which brings the costs of living down but I suspect this may not be a viable alternative for most people, leaving the poor in rooming houses where they rent a small studio apartment with kitchenette and shared washroom for maybe $350 to $450 per month.
These small rooming house studios are really only worth $200 to $250 per month. The costs of rental housing are too high and need to be regulated. Ideally it would be rent geared to income but I don’t think it is viable for a landlord to set rental costs this way. One way rents could be set is by square footage – rent could start at $200 for 100 to 200 square feet and could go up by $100 per 200 square feet. This housing policy would alleviate the need for low cost housing (freeing up monies for health care and infrastructure costs) this policy should probably be brought in for all provinces so one place doesn’t experience a glut. This housing policy would also put more cash into the hands of consumers and the poor who would in turn spend it, boosting the retail economy.
The social welfare networks with Food Banks and Drop Ins and half-way houses, food costs are low when you shop the flyers and if you are in a spot there is always the Food Banks and Drop Ins.
Locally in Montreal I have seen a lot of condo development, I laugh quietly and wonder who is buying these condos, with such a high rate of unemployment in the New Economy, perhaps some of them will be turned into rentals. I love the old spaces of Montreal, I think it is important to preserve the old architecture and offer reasonable priced, well kept places to live.
It should be possible to live in the New Economy. Poverty is not a sin, people should be able to have affordable food, shelter, a happy working love life, work they are suited for, healthcare and access to the Internet, these are the basic rights of all peoples. A dance with life . . .
The Way of Peace.