COVID-19 Updates: Taking steps to return to normal.
The government accepts all 19 recommendations outlined in the Affordable Housing Review Panel’s final report. Based on the panel’s advice, government will look to redefine its role, tap into community expertise, expand partnerships, reward innovation and simplify the system.
“Affordable housing is critical to create inclusive communities and is part of Alberta’s Recovery Plan to build 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.”
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.
“The panel went to great lengths to understand the affordable housing system, engage with Albertans and analyze a massive quantity of research, data and best practices. I am proud of the work we accomplished in a short amount of time. I thank the panel members for their dedication and Albertans for sharing their concerns and creative solutions as part of Alberta’s Recovery Plan.”
As the panel prepared its report, it considered input from Albertans, the supports required for those in critical housing need, market trends and projections, and the approaches other jurisdictions have taken to affordable housing.
Specifically, the housing review found that the government needs to:
- 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.
- Simplify how income is calculated for affordable housing programs.
- Support innovative approaches to housing, such as mixed-income, mixed-use, tiny homes and secondary suites.
- Encourage municipalities to develop local affordable housing plans.
- Update regulations and streamline planning and approval processes for capital projects.
- Simplify processes for applicants, tenants and housing operators.
The panel based its advice on four principles: bold action; fair, equitable and inclusive; one size does not fit all; and, efficiency, sustainability and financial responsibility.
Since affordable housing is critical for many Albertans, the government has wasted no time getting started.
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 (recommendation No. 1). This strategy will be released in the spring.
The government is also working to redesign the rental assistance program (No. 11) and simplify how income is calculated (No. 13) for affordable housing programs.
- Seniors and Housing Minister Josephine Pon appointed the Affordable Housing Review Panel in July 2020.
- The panel heard from almost 160 Albertans through engagement sessions and received more than 120 written submissions.
- Almost 500,000 Albertans spend more than 30 per cent of their household income on housing, which is unaffordable according to the standard for affordability.
- More than 110,000 Albertans live in affordable housing, while 19,000 more households are on waitlists.