Montreal Rent Is So Bad Nearly 1 In 5 Are Going Broke To Pay It, A Study Says

Around 360,000 Montreal households are in the red after paying rent each month.

Staff Writer
A view of several condo buildings in Old Montreal.

A view of several condo buildings in Old Montreal.

The housing crisis in Montreal has reached new heights, according to a study co-authored by Centraide of Greater Montreal and Montreal's branch of the consulting firm McKinsey. Almost 360,000 households — nearly one in five — across Greater Montreal don't make enough money to cover both rent and other basic essentials.

"After their rent is paid, these households start the month already in the red," Centraide wrote in a recent press release. "The total annual deficit for these households is estimated to be $3.6 billion per year."

This conclusion was reached by looking at residual income, the money a household has left after paying for recurring necessities like food, rent and utilities. For 20% of Montreal households, their residual income is in the negatives after only paying for rent.

"This situational portrait shows that housing is not just about the number of doors we have to build but about the people who are impacted and the communities that are deteriorating. This major crisis is exacting a significant social toll," Claude Pinard, president and executive director of Centraide of Greater Montreal, shared.

"The cost of housing exerts great pressure on households, especially those with low incomes. We must act together to build a supportive and inclusive society that leaves no one behind or denies people's right to adequate and affordable housing."

'Domino Effect'

Housing and its cost have what Centraide called a "domino effect" on other issues, including child development, food security, mental health and more. Tracking residual income is therefore one way to track these issues indirectly, the study argues.

When a household's residual income is negative, it means they must rely on community supports, such as food banks, or resort to riskier behaviours, like staying with an abusive spouse or living in "substandard housing."

Centraide plans to continue to track residual income as an indicator of how many households are "living on insufficient income," which the organization hopes will help them monitor their impact on the housing crisis.

This article's cover image was used for illustrative purposes only.

Willa Holt
Staff Writer
Willa Holt is a Staff Writer for MTL Blog, often found covering weird and wonderful real estate and local politics from her home base in Montreal.