April 30, 2014 10:58 pm

Mayor Don Iveson calling for more affordable housing options

Watch above: Edmonton’s mayor is calling on Ottawa to step up when it comes to providing more affordable housing options. Vinesh Pratap reports.

EDMONTON – Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson is calling on the federal government to create a national housing program in order to provide suitable, affordable housing for those who need it.

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“Housing is becoming a serious crunch and a potential crisis in this country and it’s going to impair our competitiveness over time,” says Iveson. “So that’s why we want national focus and continued national investment.”

The topic came up earlier this week at the grand opening of a new affordable housing project for Edmonton seniors. The $22 million Renaissance Tower, located in the area of 104 Avenue and 95 Street, was funded by the municipal, provincial and federal governments, along with the Metis Capital Housing Corporation.

“There is such a shortage in housing and the number for low-income families are rising,” says Darlene Lennie, CEO of the Metis Capital Housing Corporation.

With different housing markets and levels of growth across the country, Iveson admits the housing crunch looks different in every community.

“Here, it’s a booming city with lots of people who need housing in order to be successful, get settled and be productive in our economy,” he says of Edmonton.

READ MORE: Progress made, but much work remains to end homelessness in Edmonton

But that’s where, Iveson believes, a national strategy comes into play.

“We’d really like to see a national plan that looks at the fact that there may be differences in different parts of the country, but that a national commitment is needed, all provinces need to be at the table, territories,” he explains.

“I think that the federal government is hearing it not just from Edmonton, but from big cities across the country and small communities, too.”

There is currently a $1.7 billion federal program for affordable housing in Canada. However, that program is winding down. The federal government says details of a new initiative are expected in the coming months.

“We’re looking to provide a stable source of funding for housing from now until 2019,” says Conservative MP Scott Armstrong, “so that we can continue to provide suitable housing for those in need across the country.”

And all parties believe partnerships are critical in reaching that goal.

“We need to do more through partnerships to see something like this come to fruition, because it’s not something any one company or government can do on their own,” Lennie explains.

“It really takes all three levels of government, working with corporate partners, to try to put the proper process in place to provide adequate housing,” says Armstrong.

Iveson agrees. “With a little bit of funding from here and a little bit of funding from there you can build great housing.”

With files from Vinesh Pratap, Global News.

© Shaw Media, 2014

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