Owning a home always seemed out of reach for Kashfia Kabir and her family. The family of four lived in a downtown apartment building and needed more space, but they didn’t have the money for a down payment.
But last fall, the Kabir family moved into their new Habitat for Humanity house in Bowness. It allowed them to own a three bedroom home with no down payment and with a no interest mortgage.
But a new Habitat for Humanity project in the north west community of Silver Springs has run into some strong opposition. Some residents have fought the proposed 32-unit townhouse project, saying it’s too dense and won’t fit into a community that is mostly single detached homes.
Density is viewed differently in Hillhurst Sunnyside, where dense urban alternative housing is embraced by its community association. They hosted a Jane’s Walk on Saturday in support of alternative housing. Part of the tour included laneway housing and homes built from shipping containers.
Community association members say the women’s shelters and the many affordable housing units in the north west inner-city community fit seamlessly into the neighbourhood.
“We are firm believers in increasing the density of the inner-city,” said Decker Butzner, who helped organize the Jane’s Walk on Saturday. The planning committee member of the Hillhurst Sunnyside community association says residents have always been welcoming of the various groups that want to establish alternative housing there.
“The cost of a house in Hillhurst now, as many places in Calgary because it is close to downtown, is quite high. But there are all sorts of housing arrangements, so people who can’t afford to have a house here can live here,” Butzner said.
Horizon Housing, a non-profit that creates affordable housing, runs an affordable housing apartment building on 14 Street that offers a one bedroom unit for $470 a month, which is about half the market rate in inner-city Calgary.
Horizon Housing CEO Martina Jileckova says it’s important that living in the inner city be an option for everyone, adding that Calgary still requires many more affordable units.
“We know that in Calgary we need approximately 15,000 units to get us to the national average,” said Jileckova.
Hillhurst Sunnyside community association planners say there are definitely parking issues that come with increased density, which is a concern shared by those opposed to the Silver Springs Habitat for Humanity project. City council voted to approve the project in principle in January.