Edmonton

New online tool helps low-income Albertans find affordable housing

A new online tool called Find Housing has been launched by the Alberta government to do exactly that: help low-income people find an affordable place to live.

Find Housing offers a central space to connect individuals with housing options

The new housing tool, Find Housing, was announced Tuesday by Seniors and Housing Minister Josephine Pon. (Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)

A new online tool called Find Housing has been launched by the Alberta government to do exactly that: help low-income people find an affordable place to live.

Josephine Pon, Alberta's minister of seniors and housing, said it will allow individuals to find and apply for housing in their own communities by filling in their information online and determining their eligibility.

More than 6,000 Albertans have used Find Housing since it was launched at the end of June, she said at a Tuesday news conference. 

Created with input from tenants, housing providers and social service agents, the tool is part of the government's strategy to end homelessness.

"That's how we're going to transform our existing affordable housing system and offer more [units], and also more housing repairs and [make it] more accessible for Albertans," Pon said. 

The tool is an expansion of what already exists but offers a higher level of detail, obtaining more individual information to effectively pair people with appropriate programs and services. Currently, the Alberta government's housing website only has a basic search that connects individuals with community programs. 

Pon said this tool is geared  more toward low-income individuals than homeless ones, but she stressed that the 10-year plan includes strategies aimed at both. 

"We will continue to protect the most vulnerable and make sure that they won't be left behind," she said.

Margot Hagarty, executive director of the Leduc Regional Housing Foundation, said the tool is a "positive thing" for Albertans, calling it very user-friendly.

"We now have a central course for all individuals that are looking for this type of housing, to connect with all the operators throughout the province," she said. 

For those without access to technology, hard copies are also available. 

But Lori Sigurdson, the NDP's critic for housing, criticized the new tool, saying it doesn't offer any solutions to about 24,000 Albertans who are waiting for affordable housing.

Instead, she said, it adds "layers of complexity" to a search for housing that may not even be there to begin with. 

"If the UCP stopped attacking low-income Albertans with budget cuts and clawbacks, we could address the root of the problem by investing in more affordable housing stock and getting Alberta families into a home," she said in a statement. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Raylene Lung is an associate radio producer with the morning program, Ottawa Morning, and the afternoon program, All In A Day, at CBC Ottawa. She’s a Master of Journalism graduate from Carleton University and loves horses. She can be reached at raylene.lung@cbc.ca or on Twitter @LungRaylene .

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