(Montreal) The participation of private partners in the construction and renovation of social and affordable housing has flourished to increase the number of them by nearly 50% compared to what was initially planned.
Originally, the agreements provided for the construction or renovation of some 2,000 social and affordable housing units across Quebec by the end of 2025, 1,000 assumed by the Fonds de solidarité FTQ and 1,000 by the Mouvement Desjardins.
However, the two entities announced Monday, in Longueuil, that this number will increase to 1,400 on the side of the Solidarity Fund and 1,500 at Desjardins, for a total of 2,900.
The Minister responsible for Housing, France-Élaine Duranceau, was alongside the President and Chief Executive Officer of Desjardins Group, Guy Cormier, his counterpart for the Solidarity Fund, Janie Béïque, and the Mayor of Longueuil, Catherine Fournier, to share this remarkable result of the partnership.
Mr. Cormier stressed that this is not just about projects intended for large urban centers, while the housing crisis is raging everywhere across the province. “We’re talking about Rivière-du-Loup, we’re talking about Gaspésie, we’re talking about Saguenay, we’re talking about Gatineau, we’re talking about Sherbrooke, we’re talking about the South Shore, we’re talking about the North Shore, we’re also talking about Montreal, from Sainte-Foy. »
Moreover, it was announced at the same time that Longueuil will host one of these projects, a 175-unit building comprising 80 social housing units eligible for the Rent Supplement Program and 95 affordable housing units. These will vary in size from studios for one person to four-bedroom units aimed at families, for whom apartments of this size at reasonable prices have become almost impossible to find.
The Mouvement Desjardins specifies that its projects are distributed in the 14 regions of Quebec, including one which is already under construction in Estrie, while the Solidarity Fund reports 32 projects in 10 regions. In all cases, these projects are developed and implemented in collaboration with local community organizations working in housing.
It might be surprising to see private portfolios invest in such low-profit ventures, but even if these investments will not be at a loss, the two business leaders reminded that their mission is not the same as that of investors. traditional private. “Projects like that, it gives a return that is lower than what we get in other projects,” clearly admitted Ms. Béïque, specifying that this was first and foremost a ” societal return”.
“We make more returns or we make a market return in certain projects, which allows us, because of our mission and then our desire, to be in these sectors and take a return that is less,” said she added.
Guy Cormier essentially made the same comments. “There are projects where we have very good returns, then projects that we have returns that we do not qualify as financial, which we qualify as much more societal or impact in the community. »
“I think our members at Desjardins expect that from the movement,” he concluded.
Both on the side of the FTQ and the Mouvement Desjardins, 75% of the projects financed will be new constructions, the other 25% being renovations of existing housing.
For the realization of these projects, Quebec granted 175 million to the real estate subsidiary of the Solidarity Fund, the Fund going there from 75 million for its part. Desjardins also received 175 million from Quebec to which he added 150 million in capital and loans.
Minister Duranceau took the opportunity to offer this reply to those who criticized the partnership approach with the private sector in this sector: “So some may say ‘it looks like be a government disengagement from social and affordable housing”. I think we are far from disengaging. Dollars prove it. »
The CSN’s Fondaction also participates in this project, but focuses on the cooperative housing sector. Initially, 1,000 housing units were also planned on this side, but Minister Duranceau promised that another announcement would soon be made in this case.