Expert panel formed to review affordable housing

Seniors and Housing Minister Josephine Pon welcomed the panel to its first meeting. Panel Chair Mickey Amery, MLA for Calgary-Cross, will lead the 10-member panel that will provide recommendations to transform Alberta’s affordable housing system.

Seniors and Housing Minister Josephine Pon has appointed 10 experts to an independent panel, led by MLA Mickey Amery, to conduct a review that will provide recommendations to transform affordable housing. Through this review, the panel will identify ways to make the affordable housing system better serve Albertans in need as well as make more efficient use of taxpayer dollars.

“Our government knows Alberta’s affordable housing system must be financially sustainable and able to address growing demand. This review is the foundational piece of our housing transformation work. I thank the panel members for agreeing to spend their valuable time and effort to make housing more affordable and accessible. Their recommendations will help inform a new vision for affordable housing in Alberta.”

Josephine Pon, Minister of Seniors and Housing

“It is an honour to chair the Affordable Housing Review Panel and have the opportunity to work with this outstanding group of experts. Over the coming months, as we hear from diverse groups and dig into research, we will be challenged to think creatively about ways government can better provide housing for Albertans in need. We have much work ahead and I am eager to get started.”

Mickey Amery, chair, Affordable Housing Review Panel, and MLA for Calgary-Cross

Panel members bring a diverse range of expertise and backgrounds as housing providers, developers and civil society organizations to identify innovative solutions for Albertans in need of housing. The panel will also receive submissions on populations most in need of affordable housing.

Specifically, the panel will consider:

  • The role the Government of Alberta plays in providing affordable housing.
  • Simplifying or easing regulatory structures that create costs and red tape for housing providers.
  • Gaps in the current affordable housing system.
  • Innovative approaches that will enable government and its partners to meet increasing demand for affordable housing.

The Affordable Housing Review Panel members are:

  • Mickey Amery, chair – MLA for Calgary-Cross
  • Paul Boskovich – president, Genstar Development Company
  • Lauren Ingalls – chief administrative officer, Westwinds Communities
  • Jeffrey Johnson – consultant and former Alberta MLA and cabinet minister
  • Sam Kolias – co-founder, chairman and chief executive officer, Boardwalk REIT
  • Javaid (Jerry) Naqvi – chairman and founder, Cameron Development Corporation
  • Marcia Nelson – executive fellow, University of Calgary
  • Raymond Swonek – chief executive officer, GEF Seniors Housing
  • Dr. Sasha Tsenkova – professor, University of Calgary
  • Rachelle Venne – chief executive officer, Institute for the Advancement of Aboriginal Women

To ensure physical distancing, members will rely on virtual technology to facilitate meetings, presentations and engagement, where possible. The panel will hear from groups that are interested in affordable housing. These groups include seniors, Indigenous Peoples, newcomers, people experiencing homelessness, and people with disabilities.

“I feel privileged to help shape the future of the province’s affordable housing system in order to sustain this critical resource. In this economic juncture, housing is more important than ever. I applaud the province for taking steps to review a program that has been evolving since 1958 to ensure it supports housing needs of vulnerable families, seniors and individuals with special needs, while supporting growing demands for innovative housing solutions.”

Lauren Ingalls, chief administrative officer, Westwinds Communities

“Affordable housing is essential for competitive and resilient communities. During the current pandemic, it shelters Albertans from economic shocks, provides a place to work, learn and recover from social stress. The ecosystem of affordable housing providers requires resources, commitment and innovative strategies to address growing housing challenges.”

Dr. Sasha Tsenkova, professor, University of Calgary

“Affordable housing is critical to building safe, inclusive Alberta communities. Housing has been documented often as a critical component to improving the lives of Indigenous women, most recently in the National Inquiry on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. I look forward to participating in the Affordable Housing Review Panel with this view in mind.”

Rachelle Venne, chief executive officer, Institute for the Advancement of Aboriginal Women

“On behalf of Cameron Corporation, I am proud to be selected by Minister Pon to be part of the Affordable Housing Review Panel. From our perspective as an immigrant family and an Edmonton-based developer for 40 years, we understand the need to build a community everyone can enjoy, and one in which we all feel accepted. I look forward to working hard alongside my fellow panel members and partner organizations to continue making Alberta accessible for all.”

Jerry Naqvi, chairman and founder, Cameron Development Corporation

The panel’s final report will be submitted to Minister Pon by Sept. 30.

Quick facts

  • Currently, more than 110,000 Albertans live in affordable housing.
  • Almost a half-million Albertans spend more than 30 per cent of their household income on rent, which is the standard for affordability.
  • More than 19,000 households are currently on waiting lists for affordable housing.