The opening of a new affordable housing development in Crescent Heights was celebrated Wednesday, but officials say there's a desperate need for more buildings like it in Calgary.  

The 16-unit building is the city's first affordable housing project to open in the last five years. It will be managed by Calgary Housing Company, a city-owned corporation.

Sarah Woodgate, director of Calgary Housing and president of the Calgary Housing Company, said the new project is a mixed model, meaning people with a variety of income levels will call the building home.

Some families will pay as little as $350 a month, while other tenants will pay 90 per cent of the market rate. That setup provides a sustainable operating model, Woodgate said.   

'Challenges in the system'

affordable housing crescent heights

Officials on hand at the opening included Ward 7 Councillor Druh Farrell, MLA Sandra Jansen, Sarah Woodgate, director of Calgary Housing and president of the Calgary Housing Company, and mayor Naheed Nenshi. (Justin Pennell/CBC)

Speaking at the building's opening, Mayor Naheed Nenshi said much work remains to be done as the waiting list for Calgary Housing numbers 4,000 households.

"This is the first affordable housing development that we've cut a ribbon on in five years, which says a lot about the system, about challenges in the system, and about what we're doing in order to fix it," Nenshi said.

"Building affordable housing is vital to creating strong communities. We know there is a desperate need in our community to do this and we have to be able to supply that."

Nenshi commended the community of Crescent Heights for its "extraordinary and thoughtful" work on integrating affordable housing into its community, calling it a model for the entire city.  

Construction underway on more projects

Calgary MLA Sandra Jansen said the development shows "there is nothing to be afraid of in welcoming these kinds of units into your community."

The three-storey multi-residential building at 210 15th Ave. N.E. contains four studio units, four one-bedroom units, four two-bedroom units and four three-bedroom units. Two units are barrier free and one is built to accommodate visually-impaired people.

Woodgate said more than 100 new affordable homes are in progress in Calgary, including a development in Kingsland expected to open later this summer and a project in Bridgeland. Construction has started on an affordable housing development in Wildwood, and a project in Rosedale is in the design phase.

Funding for the Crescent Heights development was provided by a $2.1-million grant from the provincial government and $1.4 million in municipal funding.

Other housing projects on the block

The city isn't the only organization celebrating new infrastructure. The Calgary Homeless Foundation's RESOLVE campaign has partnered with nine social service agencies with the goal of opening 3,000 affordable rental housing units for homeless and vulnerable residents in the city.

So far three buildings have opened, with two more on the way:

  • Stepping Stone Manor in 2016.
  • Providence House in 2016.
  • Aurora on the Park in 2016.
  • Prelude in May 2017.
  • South Calgary is under construction, opening December 2017.

Information on how to apply can be obtained on the RESOLVE website.

The Mustard Seed's 1010 Centre also opened as an affordable housing complex in 2014.

Two more projects also trying to take the pressure off a lack of housing in Calgary include the Horizon Housing Society's project, which broke ground in April and will open in 2018, and Accessible Housing's Inclusio property, which broke ground in August and will open in 2018.