Feel good about your information and become a local news champion today

Calgary partners with local agencies to provide $14.1 million boost to affordable housing

The City of Calgary and community partners are investing $14.1 million in a series of initiatives aimed at bridging the city’s affordable housing gap.

The United Way and the Calgary Homeless Foundation (CHF) are partnering with the city on the three-pronged approach announced Thursday.

Of the $14.1 million announced, $6 million will be used in a capital grant program specifically targeting urban Indigenous housing organizations and projects. Further program details will come in mid-March, with application intake in June. That was done in consultation with Elders, Nations and urban Indigenous Calgarians.

Three parcels of city surplus land will be made available to non-profit housing operators, and with that, there will be a $75,000 per-door grant made available to applicants.   

To further address immediate affordable housing needs, the City, the CHF and the United Way are each chipping in $200K ($600K total) to provide first and last month’s rent for eligible renters.

“This fast path to housing will help to ensure that when people find suitable and affordable rental housing opportunities, they can act quickly,” said Calgary Mayor Jyoti Gondek.

CHF CEO Patricia Jones said they’re working collaboratively with the other program partners to develop a criterion for the rent assistance program.  She said there are 1,700 people waiting for housing.

“I’m lucky enough to be a member of the City of Calgary housing affordability Task Force, where we heard our shelter partners say the biggest barriers for some folks is first and last month’s rent,” Jones said.

Jones also said that 38 per cent of people in the recent point-in-time count said that they couldn’t afford a home because they didn’t have the income.

Collaborative work to address public safety and root-cause issues

Mayor Gondek said this announcement, along with the provincial announcement of Alberta Sheriffs in the downtown, and funding for more detox beds, shows collaborative action is being taken.

“Housing is and remains an intersectional and wicked challenge, which requires partnerships and ideas from all orders of government, from non-profits, and industry to rise to the challenge,” she said.

The mayor is hoping that their effort nudges other levels of government to join in.

It also shows that they’re trying to make headway on both sides of the issue – public safety and root cause. She said a recent report showed that homelessness is a result of bad policy and a lack of affordable housing.  They’re hoping to chip away at the latter.

“Eighty to 85 per cent of those folks who find themselves in situations of homelessness, it happens because they are low income and they can’t get out of that situation without financial support,” Mayor Gondek said.  

Karen Young, CEO of United Way of Calgary and Area, said this helps break down the barrier of affordability – not just for housing, but for basic needs.

“By providing these supports, wraparound support in communities, were able to make sure that people can stay at home or have the opportunities to get into a home to have a good life,” she said.

The City’s $13.1 million contribution to the program was approved in the November 2022 four-year budget plan.

The announcement follows a recent University of Calgary School of Public Policy report that showed the number of low-cost rental homes in Calgary dropped by 26 per cent between 1990 and 2018.