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Calgary committee endorses new $10K Secondary Suite Incentive Program

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A new Calgary program could come as early as next month to incentivize safety in secondary suite development as the city aims to boost its housing supply.

A city committee voted in favour of the Secondary Suite Incentive Program on Wednesday.

If passed by council, it could provide up to $10,000 to each homeowner.

"How many decades have we talked about invisible homelessness – people couch surfing, people living in your basement, already? Long story short, it's already happening. So this incentive is key because this incentive means that since we know what's happening, we'll have more safe units for those people to live in," said Courtney Walcott, councillor for Ward 8.

According to an outline of the program, it will allow eligible homeowners to be reimbursed for safety items in a developed secondary suite, including "installing a separate heat source and/or a makeup air unit."

In addition to the $10,000 for safety requirements, a homeowner may be eligible for an extra $5,000 for making a secondary suite more accessible.

An additional energy efficiency reimbursement will also be available for a maximum of $1,250 per home.

To receive the money, a homeowner must complete an e-learning course explaining the safety components of a secondary suite and the program will only be open to an applicant who is the property owner through to the registration of the suite.

The committee endorsed the plan after hearing an update on the city's housing situation, which shows the cost of rent has climbed by 12 per cent since September of 2023.

Calgary's Housing Strategy is made up of 98 actions to try to boost supply.

"Middle housing and secondary suites are part of that equation. And, you know, people often say, 'Well, how do I pay the bills? Maybe I need that mortgage helper as a secondary suite?'" said Terry Wong, councillor for Ward 7.

The incentive program will be capped at 3,000 suites in the first 12 months.

It could launch as early as June 3, 2024, if passed by council next week.

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