Albertans deserve an affordable housing system designed to meet their needs now and into the future.
The current affordable housing system in place is lagging behind other jurisdictions.
Alberta’s complex affordable housing system has not changed for more than 20 years. There are more than 24,000 households on waiting lists. Things will only get worse if we don’t make changes. We have to address the demand, for those sitting on a waiting list right now, and those soon to add their names. Plus, government-owned affordable housing buildings are aging. The average age of units is 35 years old, and many are in need of renewal to preserve the housing stock.
Alberta’s government hasn’t been idle when it comes to this issue. In the last 2 years, we have built more than 1,500 affordable housing units – that’s quality, safe and stable homes for seniors, individuals, and families with low income. Yet, we are still out of step with the rest of Canada. We are below the national average of affordable housing units for our population. It is clear government investment alone will not keep pace with growing demand.
We must build a financially sustainable affordable housing system. We need new ideas, a different approach, and a strong strategic plan to transform the system and improve and expand affordable housing in Alberta.
There are a lot of good ideas out there, and we have listened closely to what our housing partners have to say, and we’ve been learning from our neighbours in other provinces. Soon we will talk more about a housing transformation we believe will be the foundation to a stronger system, that will address demand, and continue to protect the most vulnerable to ensure they are not left behind.
I look forward to releasing Alberta’s affordable housing strategic plan soon. This bold new plan will help make the housing system more flexible and adaptable to local needs. It will put people first, and make more housing available through strategic and innovative partnerships.
In fact, we’ve already moved forward with some creative and cutting edge approaches.
A new Lethbridge seniors’ housing facility will incorporate a mixed-income model that allows residents to pay rent at a rate that makes sense for their individual situations. This project is also piloting a public-private-partnership approach to funding and operating the development.
The recently opened Paul Krauskopf Court is Morinville’s first net-zero housing development. The building creates as much energy as it needs, using solar power to help keep utility costs down, and ensure rent remains affordable in the long term.
We’ve also taken steps to improve the system. We redesigned the Rent Supplement Program to meet the needs of more Albertans, and provide a temporary benefit to working households. We also launched the province-wide Find Housing online tool, which will make it easier for applicants to evaluate their eligibility, and connect them with providers and housing options that meet their needs.
Because that’s what it’s about – meeting the needs of Alberta now, and making changes that will build an affordable housing system for the future.
This will take time. We will make careful changes over the next 10 years, changes that will improve and expand affordable housing in Alberta.
Albertans deserve a place to call home.