Taxpayers' group calls for social housing audit
The Canadian Taxpayers Federation is calling for a closer look at affordable housing in the province, after finding an individual making a six-figure income was renting a social housing unit in northern Alberta.
According to documents obtained through a freedom of information request, the CTF learned that a person earning an annual income of $112,000 rented a unit from Heart River Housing for $725 a month for the past 12 years.
"This is a very long-standing arrangement that has really got to change," said Derek Fildebrandt, the Alberta director for the CTF.
"The housing either needs to be freed up for the needy who need it or, if there's no demand for it, we need to sell the property and if the person still wants it they can buy it at market value."
The documents obtained by the CTF revealed other examples. One person earning $82,518 rented a property from Heart River Housing for $800 a month. There were seven other tenants with incomes between $46,800 and $56,000 a year.
Fildebrandt is calling for an audit of both Heart River Housing and the Alberta Social Housing Corporation.
Heart River Housing did not return calls from CBC News.
The housing authority receives funding from Alberta Municipal Affairs.
Minister Doug Griffiths said that if housing authorities can't fill units with people who really need them, they are either supposed to rent them at fair market value in the short term or sell them to the private sector if they remain empty over a longer period of time.
"Probably ten years ago the question should have been asked ‘Is anyone ever going to need this affordable housing? Should we still hold onto it?'" Griffiths said.
He says his department has been encouraging all regional housing authorities to do internal audits of their properties.
Griffiths gave credit to Fildebrandt and the CTF for uncovering this example.
He said he has heard anecdotes about people with high incomes living in social housing but could never find any evidence.