Opinion: Creating partnerships key to building more affordable homes

submitted by Jason Nixon, Minister of Seniors, Community and Social Services

Affordability and access to housing are concerns that are top of mind for Albertans province-wide. 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 of housing 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 Mayor of Calgary Joyti 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 dollars. 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, over $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 and I need your help.

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 top priority of 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.

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