Provincial budget could ease affordable housing crunch

Alberta's NDP government plans to spend $892 million on the construction and renovation of affordable housing over the next five years.

Low-income family hopes budget will put a dent in affordable housing waiting lists

Tanesia Brooks waited three years to move into a subsidized town house with her three children. (CBC)

Alberta's NDP government plans to spend $892 million on the construction and renovation of affordable housing over the next five years, $500 million more than planned last fall.

Tanesia Brooks says the new budget brings hope to families like hers. She waited three years to move into a subsidized townhouse with her three children. As a single mother, she says it's still hard to make ends meet.

"When you're living on a little budget and you're struggling to pay the bills and food, and going to the food bank with your children because the rent is so much money, it's very hard," Brooks said.

Brooks recalls a litany of housing woes that stretched over five years including cockroaches, asbestos, bedbugs, and a dead pet snake left in her apartment wall by previous tenants. 

"Finally I had enough when it came to the cockroaches and having a brand-new baby and having them crawl across the floor, so I looked for months and months and months trying to find a place," she said.

Affordable housing waiting lists on the rise

The NDP's provincial budget could help make the process of finding affordable housing easier for people like Brooks.

"This budget is certainly beyond our expectations ... at a provincial level, we are very pleased with this investment," said Greg Dewling, CEO of Capital Region Housing Corporation.

Capital Region Housing provides social and affordable housing in Edmonton. Dewling said the waiting list climbed to 4,500 people in April, with an average additional 300 applicants expected each month.

Dewling doesn't know exactly how the province plans to allocate funding yet, but said he hopes it puts a dent in his waiting list. Alberta's current housing market could prove helpful since prices are at a low, so the province could afford more subsidized homes with its new budget, he added. 

"This budget does confirm the investment in affordable housing, and that will help many Albertans into a home they can afford," he said.
Even though her housing is subsidized, single mother Tanesia Brooks says it's still difficult to pay for groceries and the remaining bills. (CBC)

Brighter futures for low-income families

Brooks said she hopes some of the budget trickles down to her family. She put her education in child and youth care on hold because she couldn't afford daycare for her own children.

"I do what I can every day to keep my head above water," she said.

Brooks said affordable rent would allow her to go back to school so she can work towards a better life for her family.

"It would be a very good day where you don't have to worry about living in a building that is not for human habitation," she said. 

"To have a home, to have a place where you can live and you can lay your head and you don't have to worry would be peace. It would mean so much."



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