Councillor Farrell’s Newsletter: Affordable Housing

With rising household costs, a growing number of families are struggling to afford shelter and other basic needs such as food, medication, and childcare. Household incomes in Calgary have not kept up to housing prices. Over the past decade, prices have increased 156% while incomes have increased 34%.

Over 4000 households are currently on the qualified waiting list for Calgary Housing Company, but the actual need is far greater. In Calgary, over 38,000 renter households need affordable housing. These Calgarians require some extra assistance to ensure they have access to safe and affordable places to call home. Those in need include students, seniors, young couples, people with disabilities, people who are unemployed, low-income workers and their families, and new Canadians.

What do we mean by affordable housing? For housing to be affordable, The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation states a household should not spend more than 30 percent of its gross income on rent. That target is especially difficult for lower income Calgarians to meet and they must often spend larger percentages of their incomes on basic shelter.

Although increasing the affordable housing supply is one of City Council’s priorities, the City of Calgary has not added a single affordable housing unit in the past three years. This is one of the reasons that Council unanimously passed the new Affordable Housing Strategy in July.

The strategy calls for the City to secure funding from the provincial and federal governments, to work with partner agencies and the development industry, and to prioritize private projects that include some affordable and accessible units. The strategy also calls for the City to build new rental units through Calgary Housing Company and affordable homes for ownership through Attainable Homes Calgary.

Learning from the past, the City no longer concentrates affordable housing in one area, but instead encourages smaller projects that better integrate into all neighbourhoods. Most Ward 7 communities already host at least one affordable housing development.

Proposed affordable housing projects will include public engagement to ensure that they integrate well with the surrounding neighbourhood. Should your neighbourhood be selected to host affordable housing, please ask how it can best be accommodated and welcomed into the community. Your new neighbours will certainly appreciate it.

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