City of Calgary to open new affordable housing units for first time in years

For the first time in years, the City of Calgary is about to start opening affordable housing units again.

City received 'zero money' from federal and provincial governments since 2011 but that's now changing

Coun. Evan Woolley noted it's been years since the federal and provincial governments have provided funding for affordable housing and said it's about time the city got back on track in opening new units (CBC)

For the first time in years, the City of Calgary is about to start opening affordable housing units again.

A council committee endorsed a new housing strategy Tuesday, after the federal and provincial governments both announced in their latest budgets that they intend to invest millions of dollars in new affordable housing projects.

"Since 2011, we've had zero money from the federal and provincial governments," said Coun. Evan Woolley.

No new units have been built in Calgary in the past three years.

The strategy calls for 88 more units in each of the next two years, and will be implemented in 2016 through the city's existing operating budget.

The plan would also see $1.5 million per year drawn from the city's public housing reserve fund in 2017 and 2018.

Mayor calls to 'massively increase' units

Mayor Naheed Nenshi said the city and the non-profit sector need to work together to "massively increase" the supply of affordable housing in Calgary.

"We've got to start working, not only on the number of people who remain homeless as we come toward the end of the 10 year plan to end homelessness, but also on the number of people on the waiting list for Calgary housing and for other affordable housing," he said.

"I hear every day from people who are in a dire housing situation and just can't move up that waiting list, and the way to move them up the waiting list is to build more housing."

City council is expected to ratify the new strategy next month.

About 4,000 people are currently on wait lists with the Calgary Housing Company, which manages the city's affordable housing units.