Alberta government confirms $11M for Lethbridge supportive housing

Alberta government confirms $11M for Lethbridge supportive housing
The Alberta government confirmed Thursday it will be contributing funds to Lethbridge's municipal housing strategy. But as Emily Olsen reports, some NDP officials are critical because the announcement came just over a year after they made the same one.

Forty-two new supportive housing units will be built in Lethbridge over the next two years, thanks to an $11-million boost from the federal and provincial governments.

“It’s certainly a first step,” Mayor Chris Spearman said.

READ MORE: UCP to review funding promised to Lethbridge by NDP for supportive housing

The units will be home to some of the city’s most at-risk residents, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg, according to Spearman.

“We expect this will accommodate about 40 people. We understand the caseload is about 145.

“We want to build on that relationship with the provincial government to make sure all vulnerable people in the city of Lethbridge receive the help that they need.”

While the location of the housing hasn’t been announced, shovels are expected to hit the ground later this year. The project is expected to create about 80 jobs.

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The announcement is good news for the city’s Municipal Housing Strategy, but for some officials, it’s feeling like déjà vu.

The former NDP government announced almost identical funding in December of 2018.

After the election, a UCP review stopped the project in its tracks.

READ MORE: Alberta government providing $12.6M to help with Lethbridge opioid crisis

“Nobody wants to commit to someone else’s work,” MLA for Lethbridge-East Nathan Neudorf explained.

“A responsible government will do the work themselves just to make sure that they have reviewed every part of it. This is our due diligence to do that correctly, and then make this announcement today to continue that work and move it forward.”

Lethbridge-West MLA Shannon Phillips said the delay was not only inappropriate but dangerous for those already in need of services.

“They’re going to just be waiting that much longer because Jason Kenney had to indulge his ego,” Phillips said.

“Just think about how crass and cynical that is — this is people’s lives we’re talking about. Albertans deserve better, the people of Lethbridge deserve better.”

In addition to the provincial funding, some of the money for the housing project is also coming from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.

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Minister of Seniors and Housing Josephine Pon said the focus of her ministry and of the Alberta government is on doing it right.

“[What is] more important is [that] we make it happen for the city of Lethbridge and for the people who are looking for a secure and safe place to stay,” Pon said.