December 6, 2023

The Queens County Citizen

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Three years after buying a former Chinese hospital, families are still waiting for social housing to be built

Three years after buying a former Chinese hospital, families are still waiting for social housing to be built

Montreal families who have been agitating for ten years for a social housing project at a former Chinese hospital are still waiting despite the city expropriating the land three years ago.

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For Soufia Khmarou, her family can’t find a bigger house.

“I have been looking for years. I knocked on all the doors, nothing moved. And there I got an eviction notice from my landlord,” sighed the mother of three, including an 11-year-old girl in a wheelchair.

For a decade, the Villeray Tenants Association Ms. Supporting Khmer and other neighboring residents.

Abandoned for more than 20 years, it is one of the few places in the neighborhood to accommodate such a project.

No money

In 2014, the group considered buying the building from CIUSSS de l’Est-de-l’île-de-Montréal, which did not work out.

Then, in 2019, the city of Montreal got its hands on the building for $4 million in hopes that the project would finally go unblocked.

But three years later, more than sixty Villere tenants are still waiting for a roof.

The city handed the Rommel firm the mandate to develop 38 units under the AcèsLogis program, which ended this year.

“No money”, Rommel’s general manager, Mazen Houdeib, left.

His organization applied for the new Quebec Affordable Housing Program (PHAQ). Only eight projects were selected in Montreal. Not the former Chinese hospital.


Enterprising tenants accused Rommel of alienating them by teaming up with a park-extension organization to secure financing.

“Everything was tied up and we were kicked out,” protested Vassila Hadzabi, president of the Villere tenants’ association.

Even after such a long time, she fears that the project will slip into the hands of the Villere families who have mobilized to realize the project.

“Our goal remains the same, to develop the site to meet the needs of the district,” assured Mr Houdeib.

Lack of funds

The Popular Action Front in Urban Redevelopment (FRAPRU) blamed Quebec’s “chronic underfunding.”

“In Montreal, many lots have been bought waiting for sufficient funds to convert them. This is unacceptable in the context of the housing crisis,” emphasizes Catherine Lussier, Head of Montreal Files at FRAPRU.

In total, 41 projects totaling 1,723 units were selected under PHAQ in the province, a clearly inadequate number, according to her.

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