Watch Live: CityNews at Six Edmonton

Addressing affordable housing gaps in Alberta

On National Housing Day, conversations on the lack of affordable housing arose. Laura Krause has more on what’s being done to address the gaps.

Marilyn Bird doesn’t think she would be here today if it wasn’t for affordable housing giving her a safe place to live.

“I would probably be dead, because I was running out of hope,” said Bird.

“You can build something beautiful out of nothing if you put the time and love into it. And that’s what I’ve done, I created a home, and that’s what affordable housing, and independent housing has done for me. It saved my life.”

Bird was in and out of homelessness. She says it was a safe home to live in that got her on her two feet.

But the reality is, as many Canadians face financial challenges, there isn’t enough affordable housing to go around.

“We might actually have people hitting a point of distress because of financial or economic issues,” said Giri Puligandla, the executive director of the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) for the Edmonton region.

The biggest stress people have when they call 2-1-1 is their basic needs – like housing and food security – and their finances. The CMHA says those concerns make up about 38 per cent of all calls in Alberta.

“Everything is more expensive,” said Puligandla. “For a lot of people, if they were barely making ends meet before, it’s getting a lot harder to do that.”

Alberta investing $16M to upgrade 400 affordable housing units

Over the next decade, Alberta is investing $9 billion to build 25,000 units. On Wednesday – National Housing Day – the province announced $16 million to upgrade 400 already existing units so Albertans can quickly access safe homes.

The provincial government admitted it’s playing catch up, but officials are putting the blame squarely on the feds.

“We need to be sure we can get the lowest hanging fruit first, and if we have existing units we can move people into in a matter of months instead of years, that’s where we should invest our dollars first,” said Jason Nixon, the minister of Alberta seniors, community and social services.

Alberta’s opposition NDP disagrees with Nixon, saying Alberta’s current government created these problems. They are calling for more action provincially.

“Hundreds of thousands of Albertans are stressing over housing, and the UCP has ignored them,” said Janis Irwin, the Alberta NDP critic for housing.

The City of Edmonton estimates one-in-eight households are paying more than they can afford in housing or live in crowded or unsafe conditions and can’t afford to move.

“We are no different, we are no different at all. We want a good home, we want a home we can be proud of.”

— Marilyn Bird

“Need is great,” said Edmonton Mayor Amarjeet Sohi. “Close to 49,000 households are living in core housing need, so they are paying more than they can afford for housing, so we need to be sure we are providing more housing.”

Edmonton has made investments of $150 million to help create more than 3,000 units of affordable housing since 2019, including 680 units of supportive housing.

Top Stories

Top Stories

Most Watched Today