Submitted by G.L.
As a very LGBT friendly city, Montreal obviously has a significant LGBT population spread across the island and spilling over into the suburbs. Its lively gay scene, its friendly nature and a year-round calendar of activities continues to attract more and more members of the LGBT community to this beautiful city of Montreal.
With ever increasing immigration into the city, the challenges in finding safe, secure and good accommodation that is reasonably priced, continue to grow and the LGBT community faces that extra challenge of finding a safe neighbourhood too. While much progress has been made over the years, the community continues to face unique challenges specially when it comes to finding a safe and affordable place to call home.
Multiple surveys indicate that the community accounts for a disproportionately large percentage of Canadians who are homeless or seriously in trouble, looking for housing. And it is not only the young. Even the seniors, who identify as LGBT, face their own challenges especially if they live in a retirement residence or in long term care housing. While many retirement residences have adopted more friendly policies, it appears that a lot more needs to be done. This holds true for the younger, the greying and the middle age populations.
Experts seem to believe that not having safe and secure places to call home increases the risk of substance abuse, violence, physical and psychological illnesses and so forth. Even for simple peace of mind, it is important to feel comfortable staying in an apartment building with friendly neighbours who may or may not be members of the LGBT community. It is not uncommon to see people’s behavior change, albeit ever so little, on discovering that their neighbour is gay. Addressing housing issues can go a long way towards the overall well-being of the LGBT community on a day to day basis.
As someone who has lived in rented accommodation since first landing in Montreal, I find it rather curious that there isn’t an easily accessible resource to tap into, if one simply wants to find an area that has a higher percentage of friendly LGBT neighbours. A neighbourhood that has a higher percentage of the LGBT community is more likely to be safer than one where there are only a few or none. If the community is visible, the neighbours get used to them. At a very basic level, it is as simple as that. Identifying friendly neighbourhoods would also help in drawing comparisons with other neighbourhoods that aren’t considered as friendly and over time, with comparable data at hand, one can strive to improve LGBT friendliness across the entire city.
A case may be made for a crowd sourced open access database that can be put together to list out neighbourhoods that have a higher percentage of the community living there. The database may include LGBT friendly neighbourhoods, boroughs, senior retirement residences, rental housing, even LGBT owned businesses across the city. A well-connected and a more visible LGBT community is likely to be a happier and safer community. Together, let us ensure each member of the community has access to inclusive, safe and affordable housing.