Affordable Student Housing Committee

AFFORDABLE STUDENT HOUSING COMMITTEE

The Affordable Student Housing Committee (ASHC), established in the Fall of 2019, explores avenues for securing and promoting affordable student housing. Soon after, its members – consisting of SSMU Councillors, urban planning students, and other engaged community members – developed SSMU’s Affordable Student Housing Plan which details the committee’s objectives:

1) To Engage with the Student Body  

Each year, the ASHC holds an Annual General Meeting. This space is used to discuss the main issues and aspirations of the student body concerning housing. The ASHC is committed to meaningfully engaging with the student body and the broader McGill community. If you or someone you know would like to speak with a member of the committee, do not hesitate to contact the committee Chair, the Community Affairs Commissioner, at commaffairs@ssmu.ca.

2) To Advocate for Tenants’ Rights

A major barrier to affordable housing in Montreal is a lack of awareness of tenant rights. While Quebec generally has favorable protections for tenants, many people – especially students – are unaware of these protections and/or how to exercise them. This further emboldens predatory landlords to take advantage of tenants. As such, the ASHC partners with various organizations to educate tenants of their rights. 

3) To Build Affordable Housing for Students

As a result of the implementation of the affordable student housing fee in the fall of 2021, SSMU was able to enter a formal agreement with the Popular University Student Housing Fund (PUSH Fund) and the Unité de travail pour l’implantation de logement étudiant (UTILE), two not-for-profit organizations that specialize in building affordable housing for students.

This partnership means SSMU members fund the construction of an affordable student housing project. This project – which is completely separate from the residences offered by McGill’s administration – will provide McGill’s undergraduate students with 200-300 units of affordable housing with rents 15-30% below fair market value. Priority will be given to low-income students. So far, a lot has been secured and the design of the construction is underway. Construction is set to be completed by 2026 at the latest. 

The ASHC believes that such projects are an important step towards maintaining affordable housing for McGill students, as well as for Montrealers more generally, because they put the focus of housing on economic and social accessibility, rather than profit.

4) To Partner with the Milton-Parc Citizens’ Committee

Given the large presence of McGill students in the Milton-Parc neighborhood, the ASHC seeks to hold close relationships with community actors. Specifically, there may be opportunities for the Milton Parc Citizens’ Committee (MPCC) and ASHC to collaborate on future housing initiatives, such as on an intergenerational housing initiative, for example. The ASHC believes in fostering good relationships between McGill and its neighbors. 

5) To Advocate for Public Ownership of Former Hospital Sites

There are a number of former hospital sites located near McGill that will soon be undergoing major transformation. These include the sites of the Hôtel-Dieu Hospital, the Royal Victoria Hospital, and l’Institut des Sourdes-muettes. The ASHC fears that the potential privatization of these sites would lead to a narrow-minded focus on profit – a mindset ignorant of the needs of the broader Milton-Parc and Montreal community. As such, the Affordable Student Housing Plan advocates that these sites be kept in public hands, and that the (housing) needs of the Milton-Parc community be kept at the top of mind. Specifically, the committee advocates that people experiencing homlessness in the neighborhood, as well as McGill students be granted a seat at the table in consultations. 

To get involved, contact the Community Affairs Commissioner, at commaffairs@ssmu.ca.