Affordable housing fears unfounded, say Calgary groups
Social agencies in Calgary hope the Drop-in Centre can quell fears about its new low incoming housing project in Greenview.
Some residents in the area are worried it will hurt property values and increase crime.
Maya Sehic, executive director of the Norfolk Housing Association, says there's a needless stigma about low income housing.
"Our tenants are regular people who are simply making a minimum wage and earn a lower income and simply cannot afford the market rents some that landlords charge out there."
Sehic says there's a big demand for low income housing in Calgary.
Her not-for-profit affordable housing organization has a four-year wait list.
Norfolk owns and operates five residential buildings in Calgary’s Kensington area, with a total of 114 residential and 4 commercial tenants.
Resistance to Bridgeland project faded fast
Sherry West says her neighbourhood, Bridgeland, changed quite a bit eight years ago.
The Calgary Drop-In Centre turned the apartment building next door into an affordable housing project.
West says the resistance didn't last long.
"They renovated extensively," she said. "The building was looking pretty derelict in the past, so the building is much improved."
West's neighbours are on fixed incomes or minimum wage jobs.
"They're very quiet; they're very pleasant; they take care of their places; they’re great."
She says she doesn't think it's affected the value of her condo.
"Still worth a lot more than what I paid for the place nine years ago, so it's all good to me."
West's experience is reflected in a number of North American studies.
Calgary Homeless Foundation president Tim Richter says he's never seen evidence that low income housing hurts property values or increases crime.
"There is an overall community benefit to affordable housing, so an overall crime, community safety benefit," he said.
The Drop-In Centre says it expects its project in Greenview will be up and running in the fall.
According to Drop-In Centre officials, they're trying to help the working poor — providing a safe place to live for those on fixed incomes or in abusive relationships.
"The hotel will be used entirely for housing," said DI spokesperson Jordan Hamilton in an email. "It is not a shelter. Some members of the community fear that we may use the existing conference centre as an emergency drop-in space.
"We're hoping to use it as a conference centre, operated by a second party who would pay rent, further subsiding the hotel and our downtown shelter."
Hamilton said everyone staying at the hotel would pay rent.
"Some are working poor. Others are low income pensioners," he said. "There are 117 suites. The room costs $400 per month. Food is an additional $200."