When it comes to affordable housing, Alberta is at a crossroads.
The combination of the severe economic downturn during the past 5 years and the COVID-19 pandemic has increased economic uncertainty for many Albertans.
We all need safe, suitable housing we can afford to successfully participate in the economy and society. But there are more Albertans who need affordable housing than there is affordable housing available.
And the gap is only growing. More than 110,000 Albertans live in affordable housing while 19,000 households sit on waiting lists. At the same time, nearly half a million Albertans pay more rent than is considered affordable.
It’s clear the current system – a system that has not been updated structurally in more than 2 decades – is failing to meet our province’s needs. Previous governments did little to address these shortcomings, which is why we are taking bold steps toward fulfilling our platform commitment to build more affordable housing for those who need it in a fiscally responsible and financially sustainable way. It’s time to bring Alberta’s affordable housing system into the 21st century.
That is also why I challenged the Affordable Housing Review Panel to come up with creative ways to make our housing system more efficient and effective. After months of research, gathering ideas from hundreds of Albertans across the province, and reviewing data and approaches from other jurisdictions, this group of Indigenous, academic, and industry experts, has made 19 recommendations.
I was pleased to accept all of them on behalf of Alberta’s government. With the recommendations forming the cornerstone of our strategy and action plan, we will renew the affordable housing system. We will create more fair, flexible and inclusive housing options that meet the needs of Albertans now, and into the future.
What changes can Albertans expect? Alberta’s government will look to redefine its role in the affordable housing system, tap into community expertise and build capacity, expand partnerships, reward innovation, and simplify the system.
I encourage all Albertans to read all of the recommendations of the Affordable Housing Review Panel and the rationale for each.
Albertans counted on the Affordable Housing Review Panel to find enterprising, creative solutions. We will listen to their advice and make life better for all Albertans by taking bold action to transform the affordable housing system.
Josephine Pon served as Minister of Seniors and Housing from April 30, 2019 to October 24, 2022.