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Alberta announces $16M to repair, restore government-owned affordable housing facilities


The provincial government has announced $16 million in funding to help battle Alberta's housing crisis.


Jason Nixon, Alberta's minister of seniors, community and social services, made the announcement in Calgary on Wednesday afternoon, saying the money will be used for repair and maintenance of government-owned affordable housing facilities that are not in use. 


The $16 million announced Wednesday afternoon is in addition to the $94 million already earmarked for maintenance funding.


"We know the need for affordable housing continues to grow," he said. 


"By revitalizing outdated units, we are providing safe, stable homes for Albertans in need."


The province says the investment in existing units will ensure Albertans have access to affordable housing within their budget, "now and into the future."


The funding will pay for things like replacing windows and repairing roofs, as well as improving the interiors of the buildings.


"This will bring on something in the neighbourhood of hundreds of new spaces for people to be able to utilize in our province," Nixon said. 


The province says it is already working with housing providers to identify priority projects.


Arlene Adamson, president of the Alberta Seniors and Community Housing Association, says the funding will play a vital role in maintaining existing properties.


Gord Johnson, CEO of Edmonton affordable housing operator Civida, says the funding comes at a time when Alberta’s population is rapidly growing, increasing the need for all housing, particularly community and mixed-income housing options.


On Wednesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the "first of many" municipal agreements under the federal government's Housing Accelerator Fund, a small-scale step that the Liberals are framing as an example of how they plan to tackle the issue that's become so pressing for many Canadians.


The $74-million deal with London, Ont., will fast-track the creation of more than 2,000 housing units over the next three years, and build thousands more in the years following.


The Liberals say it is part of a promised multi-pronged housing strategy to be illuminated in the months ahead.


These housing units will include high-density development without the need for re-zoning, and clear the way for more development of duplexes, triplexes and small apartment buildings close to public transit on city land, according to the government. 


Through the Housing Accelerator Fund, the government is targeting the creation of 100,000 net new housing units across Canada by incentivizing municipalities to cut red tape by updating their zoning and permit systems to allow for speedier construction of residential properties. 


Wednesday's announcement comes as Calgary's city council prepares to discuss ways to alleviate Calgary's housing crisis.


According to the latest figures released by the city, the average cost to rent a home in Calgary has grown by 40 per cent since 2020, and the price of a detached home has increased by 37 per cent.


Using the recommendation that no one spends more than 30 per cent of their salary on housing, the annual income needed to purchase a detached home would exceed $155,000, according to Calgary's 2023 Housing Needs Assessment. 


The city also held a grand opening for a 45-unit affordable housing townhome project in the community of Seton on Wednesday.


It was funded through private donors and all three levels of government. 


"I think there is a lot to be said about all three orders of government right now focusing on housing, and specifically using the word housing crisis because that is what we are in," said Mayor Jyoti Gondek.


While there are affordable housing projects in the works in Calgary, some say there aren't enough to keep up with demand.


"Ultimately, we need more housing," said Tim Ward, Calgary's manager of housing solutions, last week. "We need more market housing and we need a diversity of housing choices as well."


Ward 11 Coun. Kourtney Penner says there hasn't been enough action on affordable housing.


"This is the city putting their hand up and saying, 'We're ready and we're willing to take action and we're ready to start it now,'" she said last week.


On Thursday, members of Calgary's Community Development Committee will review the 2024-2030 housing strategy, hearing public feedback on a list of about 80 recommendations to try and increase housing supply and offer more affordable options.


More than 120 people are already signed up to speak at the meeting, which is expected to stretch well into Friday.


With files from Jordan Kanygin, Austin Lee and Rachel Aiello, CTV News Top Stories

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