Quebec Standard

Thursday, November 30, 2023

Montreal non-profits are purchasing apartments to keep rents low


Key takeaways: 

  • Organizations are trying to fill gaps in the accommodation crisis but require funding.
  • The old Sainte-Émilie convent in Hochelaga-Maisonneuve will be transformed into 80 units of accomodation.

Between a school, a church that shut down long back, and a red social housing building in Montreal’s Hochelaga-Maisonneuve neighborhood, stands a stately greystone with the Virgin Mary watching over it.

The old convent on Adam Street, a girls’ school before becoming a retirement home for nuns, is now being converted into an affordable housing project.

The heritage building will evolve into a lifeline for low-income Montrealers.

“This isn’t a project that will be met with ‘not in my backyard’ attitudes,” stated Jean-Pierre Racette, SHAPEM’s general director. “We’ll be accommodating people with low earnings, the elderly, have a daycare, it’s mixed,”

Also read: Hundreds are still without electricity in Sainte-Adèle after last week’s storm

The heritage building will evolve into a lifeline for low-income Montrealers

SHAPEM is a non-profit organization committed to developing and managing inclusive and sustainable community housing. With the support of the FTQ Solidarity Fund, SHAPEM dished out nearly $2.5 million in December 2019 to buy the building from the nuns, who didn’t want to sell it to private developers.

The plan is to gut the convent, turn it into nearly 80 affordable housing teams, and turn the large yard into a park for the community and a daycare. “I just feel good when I’m in here,” Racette stated while giving a tour of the convent’s multi-colored rooms.

SHAPEM is one of nearly a dozen significant organizations in Montreal working to keep housing affordable by either purchasing or building housing units and keeping them off the speculative market.

But, with construction prices soaring and a requirement for more funding, that might not happen for another few years — and that is an issue shared by many groups with similar objectives.

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