Affordable housing announcements get mixed reviews in Edmonton

Click to play video: 'Questions being raised on affordable housing projects in Edmonton'
Questions being raised on affordable housing projects in Edmonton
There have been commitments from all three levels of government to build more affordable housing in Edmonton. Numerous projects have been announced in recent weeks, but housing advocates are raising concerns about just how much progress is being actually made. Jasmine King explains – Apr 4, 2024

A plan by the federal government to combat the affordable housing crunch across the country is coming under scrutiny in Alberta’s capital city, where home and rentals prices continue to increase.

“We owe it to younger Canadians to get more homes built right now,” said Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Official Languages Randy Boissonnault at an event in Edmonton Thursday.

Boissonnault was promoting the federal government’s latest plan unveiled by the prime minister Thursday.

Justin Trudeau unveiled a new $1.5-billion housing fund that he billed as helping non-profit organizations acquire more rental units across Canada and ensure they remain affordable.

The new Canada Rental Protection Fund will be part of the April 16 federal budget, which Trudeau’s Liberals are already promoting aggressively as part of a long-term play to win back younger voters.

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The fund will provide $1 billion in loans and $470 million in contributions to non-profits and other partners to help them acquire affordable rental units.

“We are losing affordable homes faster than we can supply them. That’s why we’re gonna take some steps as a federal government to make sure that we address this housing inequity in the budget,” Boissonnault continued.

The City of Edmonton also joined in the housing announcements Thursday, unveiling its own plan to build a new seniors’ lodge in north Edmonton with 36 affordable suites.

“We’re gathered to celebrate the first-ever project funded by the City of Edmonton’s new Indigenous-led affordable housing grant,” said Mayor Amarjeet Sohi. “This year, I think we are up to close to 600 supportive housing units that we built with the rapid housing initiative.”

The building will replace one that closed in 2021.

The City of Edmonton’s new Affordable Housing Strategy aims to support another 2700 units of affordable housing by 2026.

“I think we also need to acknowledge that need is far greater than what we are able to do and we need to do more,” Sohi said.

Click to play video: 'Thousands of new housing units to be built in Edmonton'
Thousands of new housing units to be built in Edmonton

On Wednesday, Trudeau said the Liberals would add another $15 billion to an apartment construction loan program, bringing available funding to $55 billion, a program that was launched in 2017 and has helped create more than 48,000 homes.

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On Tuesday, the federal government announced a $6-billion infrastructure fund to support homebuilding and a $400 million top-up to the housing accelerator fund.

But some critics remain skeptical of where the cash is going.

“They love to declare seemingly big amounts of money, but the ability to actually track that delivery of new housing units is very, very difficult,” said Jim Gurnett, executive director of the Edmonton Coalition On Housing and Homelessness.

Gurnett said the announcements can’t be the only fix to the housing crisis.

“The amounts they announce might sound dramatic but after decades of not funding anything they’re far too little and they make them sound like they’re far greater than they really are,” he explained.

with files from Jasmine King and the Canadian Press

Click to play video: 'Housing crisis: Will new federal supports go far enough to help Canadians?'
Housing crisis: Will new federal supports go far enough to help Canadians?

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