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Edmonton advocates call for more housing funding following Alberta budget 2024

Click to play video: 'Edmonton housing advocates call for more funding'
Edmonton housing advocates call for more funding
More money is on the way to help Edmonton’s unhoused. Dollars coming from Alberta’s recently tabled provincial budget will be directed to funding more housing. However, advocates worry this influx still isn't enough to make real change. Jasmine King explains – Mar 9, 2024

Alberta’s recently tabled provincial budget will be allocate some dollars to housing funding, but advocates worry this influx still isn’t enough to make real change.

On Feb. 29, the province announced it will provide $24.5 million in 2024-25 and 70 million over the next three years to add new homeless shelter spaces and support operational costs.

Just over a week after the budget was announced, Hope Mission was fundraising. Volunteers took part in its annual Cold Hands, Warm Hearts walkathon.

Over 50 teams travelled up to five kilometres in the fundraiser throughout downtown Edmonton. The money goes toward health care and shelter resources.

“It’s gotten worse and the number of people experiencing homelessness in Edmonton has increased, so the number of people coming to us for services has increased. So the more resources we have to support people in need the better,” said Tim Pasma, director of programming at the Hope Mission.

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“For us right now we’re satisfied with what we’re seeing in the budget. Everybody understands that some of these challenges are going to be more longer term challenges to fix and solve. We’re thankful for the regular communication we have with our provincial partners.”

Funding tabled in the provincial budget for shelter supports. Global News

The provincial government also allocated $717 million in capital grants to advance Alberta’s Affordable Housing Strategy.

Operating support for the Seniors’ Lodge, Social Housing and Specialized Housing as well as Rental Assistance programs was also increased by $38 million in the 2024-25 budget cycle.

Representatives for the Edmonton Coalition on Housing and Homelessness say the budget doesn’t commit enough money.

“It really is a missed opportunity to make a difference for people. The lack of funding for affordable housing and social housing is virtually a guarantee that homelessness is going to continue to grow in this province,” said spokesperson Jim Gurnett.

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Click to play video: 'Reaction to Alberta’s 2024 provincial budget'
Reaction to Alberta’s 2024 provincial budget

Gurnett says Edmonton is facing a housing crisis and people need more help from the province, something the budget shortfall won’t fix.

“The government is prepared to let them be in dangerous or unhealthy or unaffordable situations rather than make an investment in their long-term good,” he said.

On Tuesday, Alberta’s Seniors, Community and Social Services Minister Jason Nixon met with four levels of local leaders to discuss Edmonton’s homelessness and housing crisis.

Nixon says he wants to help more, however, if the province wants to address current housing issues adequately, it needs support from the federal government.

“We will continue to call for appropriate funding across the country, whether it’s for Indigenous communities or for municipalities and provinces to make sure we’re receiving our full share of federal funding when it comes to tackling things like housing and other issues we see as joint jurisdiction between us and the federal government,” said Nixon.

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