Construction is underway on a six-storey low-rise apartment building in southwest Edmonton which will soon offer more than 100 affordable housing units to those in need.
The building is located in the area of 118 Street and 30 Avenue SW in the Heritage Valley community.
Federal Housing Minister Ahmed Hussen said the federal government is investing $24 million in the Heritage Flats project, which will create 102 permanent, affordable homes primarily for Enoch Cree Nation members, including women and their children.
“We believe that every Canadian deserves a safe and affordable place to call home. This is a human right,” Hussen said during the announcement in southwest Edmonton Tuesday morning.
“Having access to affordable housing can make the difference between just making ends meet and actually getting ahead.”
Federal Associate Minister of Finance Randy Boissonnault said Enoch Cree Nation and Catholic Social Services will work together to see who qualifies for the housing.
Residents will have access to nearby amenities, including the Heritage Valley LRT station, childcare facilities and several parks. The building is also located near schools, a grocery store and several fast food restaurants.
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The federal money comes from the National Housing Co-Investment fund. The City of Edmonton is providing a capital grant of nearly $5.6 million to the project.
“These 102 affordable housing units also speaks to our commitment to reconciliation because the people who will be making these units home are from our neighbouring community — the Enoch Cree Nation,” Mayor Amarjeet Sohi said.
Just last week, the city and Enoch Cree Nation celebrated the five-year anniversary of a Memorandum of Understanding signed to support the collaborative, long-term partnership between the jurisdictions.
“Partnering with Indigenous organizations is critical to the success and empowerment of projects like this,” Sohi added.
David Mitton is the president of Leston Holdings Ltd., the company behind the construction project. Mitton is a born-and-raised Edmontonian and said he recognizes the need for more affordable housing in the city.
“I think we’re really going to help out those who are in need. We’ve been working really hard to help budget and create affordable housing that’s high quality so its residents can have a place to call home that they’re extremely proud of.”
Mitton said the units all have two bedrooms and two bathrooms, and are about 700-square-feet in size.
He explained tenants will pay 79 per cent of the median market rent in the area. Mitton said units will rent for just above $1,000 per month, plus utilities.
While the housing project was celebrated by those at the announcement Tuesday, the mayor said there is still one partner missing.
“Housing is a shared responsibility. Our city is stepping up. Our federal government is stepping up. Our non-profit sector is stepping up. Our private sector is stepping up. But we’re missing a partner. We are missing a very important partner in the provincial government,” Sohi said.
Ahead of the province’s 2022 budget being tabled last month, Sohi said the city submitted a request for funding for 552 supportive housing units to be built in Edmonton, but the funding request was not met.
“We will not give up. We will continue to explore opportunities, we will continue to explore ways to bring the province to the table because they need to be at the table,” he said.
“Social housing and supportive housing and looking after the health and well-being and the community health of Edmontonians is a provincial responsibility.”
Sohi said the need for affordable housing has grown during the COVID-19 pandemic, with the number of people experiencing homelessness doubling to 3,000 people.
“We have close to 20,000 Edmontonians who are on the verge of falling into poverty because they don’t have access to affordable housing. So the need is there and the need continues to grow.”
The project is slated to be completed this fall and will be operated by 12621665 Canada Association.