Agencies struggling with an affordable housing "crisis" in Calgary say the federal funding promised in yesterday's budget is desperately needed.

Yesterday, the Liberal government announced it will invest $2.3 billion over two years for affordable housing initiatives across the country. Much of that money will be allocated to provinces and territories.

Diana Krecsy says the investment is "absolutely necessary."

"As a nation, we need to start treating affordable housing and housing for those in need as core infrastructure," said Krecsy, the President and CEO of the Calgary Homeless Foundation.

Details needed

Though she's encouraged by the promise of funding, Krecsy said she's anxious to learn how much will be allocated to Calgary. The government will invest $111.8 million in a Homelessness Partnering Strategy.

"We need immediate action and commitment now," she said. "I'm enthusiastic about the promise of a national strategy, I'm grateful for the public announcement that money is coming.

"So now I want to see how much [is coming] to Alberta, how quickly is it going to flow, and that we have systems in place so that it's getting to those organizations that are delivering affordable housing that is meeting the needs of our most vulnerable," Krecsy added.

Mayor Naheed Nenshi also applauded the announcement.

Naheed Nenshi Justin Trudeau

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi said he's looking for more detail on the federal budget's focus on cities. (Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press)

"Neither federal nor provincial governments have been giving us money for new affordable housing units in the last several years, even given the house prices in Calgary," he said.  

"As always, we're looking for more detail."

'We are in crisis'

The affordable housing situation in Calgary is dire, Krecsy says.

We can not do this with a promise and a dream - Diana Krecsy, Calgary Homeless Foundation

"We are in crisis," she said. "We are way behind. We have affordable housing in this city right now that is decaying and at risk of being unable to house people in Calgary currently, so we need to upgrade, and we need to expand and build to the scope and scale of homelessness issues that we have."

Krecsy says the city's 10-year plan to end homelessness by 2018 is achievable — with the right capital and program dollars.

"We can not do this with a promise and a dream."


With files from the Calgary Eyeopener