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Affordable housing closure concerns over Alberta government’s $53M cuts to maintenance funding

Alberta government makes cuts to affordable housing maintenance funding
WATCH ABOVE: There are concerns homelessness could increase in Alberta cities after the affordable housing maintenance funding was cut by $53 million. Sarah Komadina explains.

The Alberta government is cutting $53 million over three years to affordable housing funding maintenance.

Shortly after the cut was announced, Calgary Housing Company said it’s expecting to close 100 units this year because of insufficient funding, and more closures are expected in 2021.

READ MORE: Alberta Budget 2020: breaking down the biggest impacts to Calgary

The Edmonton Social Planning Council researches in the areas of poverty and low income. Research associate John Kolkman said the funding cut going to affect communities across the province.

“[It’s] only going to increase the challenges we face around homelessness, if we can’t house people in existing housing because there aren’t the funds to do maintenance and repairs,” Kolkman said.
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“[It’s] only going to cost us more in the long run because it’s probably going to increase the homeless problem, and [there’s] all of the expenses [with that], involvement with police and the justice system, and the disruption it causes.”

Seniors and Housing Minister Josephine Pon said even though there is a cut, the capital plan still allocates $417 million over three years, and will provide 2,000 new and regenerated affordable housing units.

“We can’t spend money we don’t have,” Pon said.

“We just have to look into what are we can do, with the least impact to vulnerable Albertans.”

“We are continuously looking for solutions, and working with the city and looking to find other alternatives to address the issues of affordable housing, particularly on maintenance and repair on units,” Pon added.

READ MORE: Low-income transit riders face impact from AISH and income support payment changes

Chris Mitchell is an Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped (AISH) recipient. He doesn’t live in low income housing that would be eligible for the maintenance funds, but has started a Facebook group to help be a voice for other vulnerable people.

Through there, he has heard from numerous people worried about the cuts.

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“It angers me quite a lot, and saddens me,” Mitchell said.

“It’s going to be disastrous — with what we have seen in our groups, with what people are living with right now — it’s very deplorable,” Mitchell said.

“The conditions of cockroaches, bed bugs, them putting their feet into the floor, black mold. This is what people are living in.”