© Fernando Calderón
The little story of the OEIL of Côte-des-Neiges…
In 1971, a group of seven students from the Université de Montréal created a committee to improve housing conditions in Côte-des-Neiges. Already, fifty years ago, the needs were evident: rents beyond the financial means of the tenants, shortage of large housing for families, deterioration of buildings in the district. There was no social housing in the area.
These students were already active with the neighborhood social action committee. In the summer of 1971, they obtained federal funding through the Perspective jeunesse program (currently Canada Summer Jobs) to inform tenants of their rights. Their summer project quickly received support from the community and a group of tenants joined the students to continue the fight for the right to decent housing.
The approach was political from the start: members were already campaigning for housing to be recognized as a right and not something to be left to the speculation of the market
The difficult years
Money was scarce in the early years! Members and activists often paid the rent out of their pockets and published the newsletter themselves! Thousands of volunteer hours saved the organization. In 1975, it was able to stabilize thanks to the funding given by Centraide. Since then, the organization has had a storefront, employees and still relies on the active involvement of its members and volunteers.
The fight continues
Despite some progress, the fight is far from over. Tenants’ rights remain fragile and must be constantly defended: rent increases; buildings that continue to deteriorate; long delays at the Administrative Housing Tribunal; major urban development projects that threaten the very existence of rental housing; construction of condos rather than social housing, etc.
The committee changes its name
In 1983, the committee changed its name to the Organisation d’Éducation et d’Information Logement of Côte-des-Neiges and pursued its objective of improving housing conditions in Côte-des-Neiges and Notre-Dame-de – Grâce.
What have we done since?
A lot of water has flowed under the bridge since the founding of the organization. Social housing, non-existent at the time, has emerged. This is the case, in 1975, of the first housing cooperative, “La cooperative Village Côte-des-Neiges”, located at 3399, rue Lacombe, which was the first housing cooperative in Quebec. From 1976 to 1994, several HLMs were built in the district. Several streets and buildings have been renovated, improving the living conditions of many residents of Côte-des-Neiges and Notre-Dame-de-Grâce.
In 1990, the ŒIL collaborated with other organizations such as PROMIS, Project Genesis, ROMEL, the CLSC Côte-des-Neiges as well as representatives of the Montreal Housing and Development Corporation (SHDM) to set up a consultation table to help develop the latter’s program. The SHDM bought 668 units, including 400 on Barclay Street, and resold 80 of the 400 units on Barclay Street to the Office municipal d’habitation (OMHM). The management of the other dwellings is either transferred to housing cooperatives or to Habitations communautaire de Côte-des-Neiges, an NPO created specifically for the management of these buildings.
In 1997, the ŒIL collaborated with Project Genesis, Multi-Caf, Écoquartier Côte-des-Neiges, ROMEL, Groupe CDH and PROMIS to set up the Social Housing Table of the Côte-des-Neiges/Snowdon Community Council. Did you know that OEIL Côte-des-Neiges has had six different addresses over the past thirty years? Like many of our tenants, we have often moved too, but always being faithful to our neighborhood!
- 1971 : 5319, rue Gatineau.
- 1972 : 5186, ch. Côte-des-Neiges.
- 1974 : 5950, ch. Côte-des-Neiges, b. 108.
- 1976 : 3600, av. Van Horne, b. 200.
- 1990 : 6655, ch. Côte-des-Neiges, b. 320.
Since 1999 the offices of the ŒIL have been located at 3600, ave. Barclay, b. 344.
The organization is still present and very active. We continue our fight for the improvement of the conditions of the tenants of the district by doing popular education with the help of thematic workshops related to housing or on social issues and by offering free information services on the right of the lodging.