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City of Calgary getting $34M from province for affordable housing

Artist rendering of Calgary's 5 Avenue S.W. affordable housing building. Funding for it was announced on April 23, 2019. Courtesy: Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation

A new funding agreement with the province will help transition social housing in Calgary to a mixed-rent model.

On Thursday morning, the City of Calgary announced the four-year, $34-million operating and capital funding agreement. The city says it will help 1,048 households continue to access affordable housing, representing about eight per cent of Calgary’s total affordable housing supply.

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“Our operating agreements (with the Calgary Housing Company) have long been antiquated and complicated, and led to situations where it was hard to redevelop projects,” Nenshi said Thursday.

The Calgary Housing Company — the city’s largest landlord — operates affordable housing on behalf of the provincial government for provincially-owned properties.

Nenshi said the previous agreements were so stringent, they shut people out from getting housing.

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“Even though we had a waiting list, there were vacant units because the criteria were so specific that no one on our waiting list met them,” the mayor said.

“And so what we tried to do is to actually… through and start modernizing those agreements in order to be much more flexible.”

Nenshi called the mixed-rent model more financially sustainable for affordable housing.

“When this is combined with our push for greater federal investment in the supply of housing for those below the income threshold, we have an opportunity before us to create a system that will ensure dignity, opportunity and security for anyone in Calgary in need of a home,” he said in a statement.

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Families helped by this announcement will be below the province’s low-income thresholds for affordable housing. The agreement will allow for policies to help residents move out of poverty.

“People in stable housing have greater chances to find and keep jobs, to learn and build skills, and be active participants in their communities,” Ward 7 Coun. Druh Farrell said in a statement.

“This agreement to maintain homes for those most in need, is one of many necessary steps to meet the growing need in Calgary.”

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The city estimates more than 100,000 households will be in need of housing by 2025, and nearly one in five are currently struggling with housing costs. To keep up with the demand, the city said it needs 2,000-2,500 new affordable homes a year.

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The mixed-rent model allows for a variety of rental rates, improving viability and sustainability of properties, according to a city release.

Seniors and Housing Minister Josephine Pon said renewing the province’s affordable housing system will meet current and future needs.

“Alberta’s government is pleased to continue our ongoing commitment and ensure Albertans have access to safe, stable and affordable housing,” Pon said in a statement.

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