665 new affordable housing units to be built in Calgary

Calgary will be getting 12 new affordable housing projects — a total of 665 units — thanks to $28.4 million in funding announced Wednesday by the federal government.

One housing advocate says that's not nearly enough

Minister of Families, Children and Social Development Jean-Yves Duclos announced new affordable housing funding in Calgary on Wednesday. (Charlotte Dumoulin/Radio-Canada)

Calgary will be getting 12 new affordable housing projects — a total of 665 units — thanks to $28.4 million in funding announced Wednesday by the federal government, but a housing advocate says much more are needed.

About a fifth of the new units will be made fully accessible for people with physical disabilities and 372 homes will be earmarked at rents affordable for those who make less than 30 per cent of Calgary's median household income, said Jean-Yves Duclos, the federal social development minister.

Duclos is responsible for the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.

"I would like to wish all of those who will soon have a new place to live a great time in this great city," he said.

The new developments will be built on city-owned land near public transit and support services and will be an important part of the city's objective to reduce its waiting list for affordable homes, he said.

4,000 people on wait list

But much more work needs to be done, according to Arianne Brady, director of stakeholder relations for non-profit Horizon Housing.

Calgary has a wait list of more than 4,000 people who need affordable housing. Many people are also in precarious housing situations, or at risk of homelessness, she said.

Arianne Brady of Horizon Housing says 15,000 affordable housing units are needed in Calgary. (Charlotte Dumoulin/Radio-Canada)

Brady said in Calgary, 3.6 per cent of households are affordable housing, putting the city well below the national average of six per cent for large municipalities.

To get to that average, Calgary would need to add 15,000 units.

It's not just an apartment, it's your home.- Bob Patrick

"We know we fall far short in terms of the affordable housing that's available to Calgarians," she said. 

Bob Patrick says he's living proof of the importance of an affordable place to live.

Patrick was at a low point in 2010 when he got a call from Horizon, telling him an affordable housing unit had opened up.

Before he received the call he was suicidal, bankrupt and recovering from a nasty divorce — but has since managed to turn things around.

"It provided me a place to heal. It's not just an apartment, it's your home," he said.

"With [affordable housing] and support services … I was able to stabilize myself and finally move out to my own place."

With files from Charlotte Dumoulin


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