By Jason Nixon
Affordability and access to housing are concerns that are top of mind for Albertans provincewide. The rising cost of living, higher interest rates and increasing costs of housing are deepening the calls for action to make housing more affordable and accessible in our province.
Addressing the affordability and accessibility concerns will require innovative solutions and new partnerships to increase the supply of affordable homes for Albertans. To do this, Alberta’s government is creating partnerships with municipal and federal governments, non-profits and private organizations to make major investments to build new homes, improve existing units of affordable housing and deliver programs that improve access to housing. Together with these partners, Alberta is investing $9 billion over the next decade to build 25,000 new units by 2031. To date, 2,500 new units have been built under our plan. Our Rent Supplement programs are also helping 12,500 households with their rent this year alone. Building new affordable homes, supporting renters and housing providers, and improving our housing infrastructure remains the top priority.
But we need our partners in the federal government to come together even more. Just last month, I wrote a joint letter with Calgary Mayor Jyoti Gondek and Edmonton Mayor Amarjeet Sohi demanding the federal government provide per-capita funding to Albertans. Unfortunately, under the third round of the Rapid Housing Initiative, Albertans received only 2.5 per cent or $38 million. One city in Ontario (Hamilton $45 million) received more than the entire province of Alberta.
Alberta’s government is stepping up to the plate, and that’s why we are listening to communities across the province and building, renovating and expanding affordable housing in communities that need it most. Through the Affordable Housing Partnership Program, Alberta’s government is actively working with non-profits and all levels of government to tackle the challenges we are facing and to invest in projects that are community-driven. In the first round of this funding, more than $125 million was awarded to projects that are building 1,100 new affordable homes for Albertans, with shovels already in the ground.
The latest round of $68 million in Housing Partnership Program funding is open to new projects that will increase the number of affordable homes in communities across the province. I encourage each and every one of our partners to apply for projects, as it takes a community to solve this crisis.
Partnerships addressing the unique needs of communities are key to how we tackle the need for affordable housing. Alberta’s government is working closely with Indigenous communities to build partnerships and make investments in the Indigenous Housing Capital Program. By working alongside Indigenous organizations and governments, Alberta’s government is ensuring that housing is meeting a community’s unique needs and offers services and supports that are culturally appropriate.
There is no one-size-fits-all solution for meeting housing needs, and what works for one community may not work for another. The priority for Alberta’s government is finding innovative solutions that encourage new investments in housing while ensuring affordable housing options are sustainable in the long term — and ensuring that our province is building capacity for the future.
The provincial government cannot tackle the challenges of inflation, affordability and housing alone. Community partners and our federal and municipal partners must come to the table and propose innovative solutions that make sense for Albertans. Together, we will improve the outlook of housing in our province and make sure Alberta continues to be the best place in the world to call home.
Jason Nixon is Minister of Seniors, Community and Social Services.