This City Made Developers Build Affordable Housing or Pay Up. They All Paid.

A law designed to build affordable housing in Montreal—and which an elected official predicted would lead to 600 new units a year—has led to zero units of affordable housing, according to the city’s data. The law required developers to either build housing or pay into a fund. Every developer chose the second option.

In April 2021, Montreal adopted the Bylaw for a Diverse Metropolis. According to the law, developers who build five dwelling units (or the equivalent in terms of space) must sign an agreement with Montreal to either construct new city-subsidized housing or new affordable housing subsidized by the developer, along with other subsidies. If developers don’t build this housing, they can either donate land or pay directly into a fund that the city will use to build affordable housing units.

According to data on the city’s website, and first reported by CBC, 150 agreements have been signed under the bylaw as of May 2023, resulting in 7100 units of housing, all of which are market rate. Every single developer opted to pay a penalty and five donated property rather than build affordable housing, resulting in $16.5 million for city-subsidized housing operated by co-ops or nonprofits—what the city classifies as “social housing”—and $8 million for affordable housing with other subsidies.


This City Made Developers Build Affordable Housing or Pay Up. They All Paid., Roshan Abraham, Vice, August 23, 2023, available here

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