Edmonton mayor asks province, Ottawa for $1.1B for affordable housing

Mayor Don Iveson is calling on the provincial and federal governments to provide $1.127 billion for affordable housing in Edmonton over the next five years.

'Shovel-ready' projects in city would build 5,000 new affordable housing units, mayor says

Mayor Don Iveson called on the provincial and federal governments Monday to provide $1.1 billion for affordable housing in Edmonton. (John Shypitka/CBC)

Mayor Don Iveson is calling on the provincial and federal governments to provide $1.127 billion for affordable housing in Edmonton over the next five years.

"Housing pays for itself," Iveson said at a news conference at a northwest Edmonton seniors home Monday. "Every billion invested in housing will grow Canada's economy by $1.4 billion."

Affordable housing reduces the strain on the health care, social services and justice systems, he said.

"Just think of the money we will all save on health care and policing when someone is properly housed and supported," Iveson said. "Think of the opportunities for work and education that happen when someone is warm and stable."

There are "shovel-ready" projects that would provide 5,000 new affordable units in Edmonton as soon as the money is in place from the federal and provincial governments, he said.

Those units would include 3,654 apartments, 920 permanent supportive housing suites, 180 secondary suites and 233 seniors' apartments, a city news release said.

City council has already approved $140 million to support these developments, it said.

"There are approximately 6,000 families that sit on our waiting list," said Greg Dewling, CEO of Capital Region Housing.

Some families move from shelter to shelter because they cannot afford to pay rent for a permanent home while others struggle to provide the basic necessities, Dewling said.

The city has committed to identifying sites for permanent supportive housing for people who are homeless and considered difficult to house, said Susan McGee of Homeward Trust.

People continue to try to survive on the streets and in the river valley even during the city's longest cold stretch in recent history, she said.

"While we are working hard to find ways to bring them in from the cold, the long-term solution is not to get them through the night, but to provide them with a home," McGee said.

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