Strengthening Alberta’s housing system
Stronger Foundations is Alberta’s 10-year strategy to improve and expand affordable housing, while building a sustainable system that provides flexible, fair and inclusive housing options well into the future. It outlines the thoughtful changes needed to provide safe, stable, affordable housing for an additional 25,000 households to increase the total served to 82,000 – an increase of more than 40%.
As of April 2021, more than 110,000 low-income Albertans live in affordable housing and more than 24,000 are on a waitlist. The last figure has doubled in the past decade and action is required now to address the growing demands for safe, affordable housing.
The strategy was informed by recommendations provided by the Affordable Housing Review Panel and provides a 10-year roadmap outlining key actions needed to transform the current housing system. These actions include increasing the number of affordable housing units, improving access to housing for Albertans in need, creating innovative and collaborative partnerships with governments, organizations and communities, and enabling more non-government investment.
Albertans have access to safe, affordable housing that meets their needs and promotes quality of life.
The housing system that delivers innovative and sustainable affordable housing options to Albertans in need through partnerships with other orders of government, non-profit and private housing providers, and communities.
The housing system serves Albertans now and into the future.
Stronger Foundations identifies 5 key themes to be achieved over the next 10 years. The strategy’s actions under these themes will make the housing system more accessible, affordable and sustainable.
Support Albertans most in need
Continue to protect the most vulnerable and ensure affordable housing eligibility is fair, clear and equitable.
Make it simpler for Albertans to access affordable housing supports, and easier for housing providers to deliver those supports.
Increase planning and governance
Enable more collaboration and local decision-making with partners, and provide more flexibility and capacity to meet local housing needs.
Enhance sustainability and efficiency
Make the affordable housing system more sustainable by enabling innovative operating approaches, such as expanding mixed-income developments.
Enable growth and investment
Use innovative partnerships with the private and non-profit sector and communities to help grow the supply of affordable housing.
Developed the Affordable Housing Asset Management Framework to provide clear, transparent criteria for which assets will be kept by government, redeveloped, transferred to affordable housing providers or sold with proceeds reinvested back into affordable housing.
- Provided municipalities with a standardized affordable housing needs assessment template to help inform decision making and support community planning.
- Provided housing management bodies with information and guidelines to support a shift to skills-based boards.
- Proclaimed the Alberta Housing Amendment Act into force on April 20.
- Amended the Management Body Operation and Administration Regulation to set housing management bodies up for success as they take on bigger roles in local housing delivery.
- Replaced the Alberta Social Housing Corporation Regulation with the Social and Affordable Housing Accommodation Exemption Regulation to provide an incentive for housing providers and new partners to take over ownership of affordable housing properties, where it makes sense.
- Committed an initial $118 million in capital funding and $25.3 million in operating funding over 3 years to implement the strategy.
- Hosted 2 input sessions with 189 housing management body board members, chief executive officers, chief administrative officers and other administrative staff to discuss the upcoming skills, knowledge and experience required for board members.
- Hosted 7 input sessions with 78 municipalities on a consistent approach to housing needs assessments.
- Hosted 3 discussion sessions with 45 participants from 22 municipalities, Alberta Municipalities and the Rural Municipalities Association on various tools to support affordable housing.
- Passed the Alberta Housing Amendment Act, which lays the groundwork for key initiatives under the strategy.
- Released the Stronger Foundations strategy to outline the action needed over the next 10 years to provide more affordable and accessible housing options.
- Launched the Find Housing online tool to make it easier for applicants to connect with housing options that meet their needs.
- Maximized federal funding through the Canada-Alberta Housing Benefit to help around 35,500 households over the lifetime of the agreement with the federal government.
- Redesigned the Rent Supplement Program to support more households and provide a temporary benefit to working households.
The 10-year strategy provides a roadmap to improve the housing system, cut red tape and build collaborative relationships with partners. Next steps include:
- Clarifying and standardizing the income verification process so eligibility, priority and rent settings are more equitable and simplified.
- Continuing to invest in the Find Housing online tool to make it more comprehensive and easier to find and access affordable housing options.
- Continuing to work with housing management bodies and operators to improve efficiency, increase capacity, and expand local decision-making.
- Creating an affordable housing partnership framework and program.
- Expanding the use of rent supplements to better use existing rental market capacity.
- Taking steps to streamline processes for capital maintenance and renewal of government-owned affordable housing properties.
- Working with housing partners to provide a simple online tool that will streamline reporting, standardize housing needs assessments, and provide more insight into the current state of affordable housing and anticipated demand.
How we got here
The Affordable Housing Review Panel was formed in July 2020 to review the affordable housing system and provide recommendations for much needed short- and long-term improvements.
The expert panel met with stakeholder organizations including affordable housing providers, private companies and civil society organizations representing groups most in need of affordable housing.
Feedback collected was used to create a report that was submitted to the Minister of Seniors and Housing. The report outlined 19 recommendations needed to transform Alberta’s affordable housing system, including the first recommendation to develop a provincial strategic plan for housing.