Provincial Affordable Housing Panel Makes 19 Recommendations for Future in Report
Province Accepts Recommendations – New Strategy to be Released in Spring 2021
Significant changes may be on the horizon for the organization, operation, and funding of affordable housing in Alberta. The potential for these changes is contained in 19 recommendations of a report released and endorsed by the government of Alberta on December 11.
There are 19 recommendations for Alberta’s affordable housing system contained in the final report of the Alberta Affordable Housing Review Panel which was released Dec. 11.
The report identifies a number of principles on which the recommendations are based. These include: bold action, fairness, equity and inclusiveness, one size does not fit all, and efficiency, sustainability and financial responsibility.
“The panel’s recommendations focused on shifting the province’s role from owner and controller to that of partner and funder, changing programs to support Albertans, not buildings; drawing on local and private sector expertise to provide more housing options; and updating regulations to encourage innovation and reduce administrative red tape.” said the government in its announcement.
The recommendations can be summarized as:
- Develop a provincial strategic plan for housing.
- Create a plan to manage and transfer provincially owned-land and buildings.
- Build the capacity of housing providers.
- Provide a rent subsidy for Albertans who need temporary support but are not eligible for existing programs.
- Support innovative approaches to housing, such as mixed-income, mixed-use.
- Simplify processes for applicants, tenants and housing operators.
In releasing the report, the province accepted all 19 recommendations and indicated “work is already underway on a strategy to outline a shared vision for affordable housing and to map out when and how the government will act on the panel’s advice”. A strategy is to be released in Spring 2021.
“Affordable housing is critical to create inclusive communities and is part of Alberta’s Recovery Plan to guide economic prosperity. Advice from the Affordable Housing Review Panel will help the government renew the provincial affordable housing system – which has not changed structurally for more than two decades – so it can better serve Albertans in need and make the best use of taxpayer dollars,” said Josephine Pon, Minister of Seniors and Housing.
In response to the report and the recommendations, Calgary Housing Company reiterated the critical importance of affordable housing for thousands of Calgary families and individuals and the importance of finding ways to increase the amount of affordable housing in the community.
“We thank the Panel for their work and applaud the Government of Alberta for prioritizing affordable housing,” said CHC President Sarah Woodgate, “We look forward to continuing to work closely with the province to ensure we can collectively meet the needs of Calgarians to live with dignity in a home they can afford.”
Earlier this year, CHC and The City made formal submissions to the panel.
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
The City of Calgary submission had 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
Read about the CHC and City submissions and view supporting documents here: CHC Story on Panel Submissions
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.