Alberta government announces plan for more affordable housing

Click to play video: 'Alberta releases plan to create more affordable housing spaces' Alberta releases plan to create more affordable housing spaces
The Alberta government has unveiled a new plan to create more affordable housing spaces. But, as Sarah Komadina explains, there are concerns this new legislation is a step towards privatization – Nov 1, 2021

The waitlists are long.

More than 24,000 Albertans are waiting to get into affordable housing. There are already more than 57,000 people living in a unit.

To address this, the Alberta government has announced plans to reduce the wait on Monday.

The goal is to increase capacity by 40 per cent to see a total of 82,000 households served.

Read more: 35,500 low-income Alberta households expected to benefit from 10-year rent subsidy program

Minister of Seniors and Housing Josephine Pon said the 10-year strategy is based on what they heard from the Affordable Housing Review Panel.

“Albertans deserve a housing system that is flexible, fair, inclusive and sustainable. The Stronger Foundations strategy focuses on partnerships and innovation to meet the diverse and unique housing needs of Albertans across the province now and into the future. Having a safe and secure place to call home will create new opportunities for Albertans,” Pon said.

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The average government-owned home is 35 years old and costly to maintain. The province is looking to sell some homes.

“Work is already underway on a framework to govern our partnership with the private and non-profit sectors in a plan to manage the government’s own affordable housing assets,” Pon said.

Read more: Fundraiser brings in $100K for affordable housing in southern Alberta

When homes are sold, the buyer of the unit can use it for what they see fit. The province said it will only be selling a small portion of units that are underutilized and have been sitting vacant and using taxpayers’ dollars to maintain the unit.

This is causing concerns that it could be a step towards privatization.

“I think it’s a bad news bill for Albertans, and we need to not be selling off affordable homes. We need to be building more and owning it,” said Lori Sigurdson, NDP seniors and housing critic.

“They are absolving themselves the responsibility and selling off assets that they should actually be shoring up and investing in.”

Pon said this is not the direction they are going.

“I know some people may say that we are taking a step toward privatization. Let me be clear, this is not true,” Pon said.

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“We are focusing on partnership. Government investment alone cannot meet the need and growing demand in Alberta.”

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