CHC and City call on Province for more funding, systemic changes in submissions to Affordable Housing Panel
Calgary Housing Company (CHC) and The City of Calgary clearly stated their priorities for affordable housing in submissions to the government of Alberta’s Affordable Housing Review Panel at the end of August.
Announced at the beginning of the summer, the Panel was tasked with identifying ways to make affordable housing more efficient and effective and to evaluate legislation, funding and operating methods. The panel invited input from all Albertans.
Both The City and CHC submissions called for increased investment in building and maintaining affordable housing and systemic changes to make the system more sustainable and responsive to the needs of Albertans living on low and moderate incomes.
“Affordable housing is an essential form of social infrastructure,” said CHC President Sarah Woodgate in her letter accompanying CHC’s submission to the Panel, “(it) demands a significant recommitment by the Provincial government.”
Mayor Naheed Nenshi was equally direct in his submission.
“The accountability for ensuring all Albertans have access to affordable and appropriate housing rests firmly with the Government of Alberta,” he wrote, “but all orders of government have an important role to play.”
CHC’s submission had four key recommendations:
- That the province invest in maintaining existing affordable housing
- Support for new mixed-rent housing models through operating agreements that provide adequate operating funding, predictable capital funding for new housing, and exemption from property tax for non-profit housing providers
- Funding for rent supplements
- A review of social housing regulations to reduce red tape and make the system more responsive to citizen needs
Though they have different specifics, these recommendations aligned with the City of Calgary submission with its three primary recommendations:
- Uphold Provincial obligations for affordable housing through investment in the sector
- Capital funding for new building and transfer of viable assets at below-market values
- Property tax exemptions for non-profit housing providers and income tax modernization
- Partnering with municipal and Federal governments to streamline funding program applications
- Create a citizen-centric housing system
- Help facilitate private sector involvement
Both submissions also endorsed the COVID-19 Community Affordable Housing Advocacy Plan that calls for $590M in funding over the next three years to create more than 5,000 new affordable homes in Calgary. That plan, developed by a committee representing more than 40 Calgary organizations including private, public and non-profit sector participants, includes a call for $240M in funding for 22 shovel-ready projects that would provide over 1,800 new homes as well as another $275M over three years to trigger $350M in federal funding that would result in an additional 3,300 affordable homes.
Both CHC and The City of Calgary emphasized the critical importance of affordable housing for individuals to be able to succeed and contribute in our community and the very significant affordable housing shortfall in Calgary. Across Canada’s major cities, an average of 6% of housing is non-market – in Calgary it is 3.6%. Calgary needs an estimated 15,000 units of new affordable housing just to reach the average in other major cities.
Although private rentals and homeownership meet the needs of 78% of Calgary households, the need at lower income levels is very significant. The City’s 2016 Corporate Affordable Housing Strategy indicated that 60% of households earning $60k or less are overspending on housing every month. As our population grows, it is estimated that more than 100,000 households will be in housing need by 2025.
Submissions to the panel closed at the end of August and they are now reviewing information gathered across the province over the summer months. Findings are to be presented to Josephine Pon, Minister of Seniors and Housing, this fall.
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