Calls for Calgary rent control
CALGARY -- Calgarian Anne Landry says it’s tough enough to pay the rent, even worse when, like a lot of Calgarians, she doesn't know what her rent will be.
“This is a huge strain on me to address this every year,” she says. “It’s excessively stressful and it takes a lot out of me.”
Landry says she’s been in her current apartment for more than two decades but that her rent varies each year - sometimes, she says, going up by nearly 20 per cent.
She says she’s often managed to convince her landlord to reduce that, but thinks there should be more protection for people in similar situations.
She’s a senior and has been unemployed for several years She says the city needs to improve its effort to make housing more affordable in a way that should be focused on everyone, not just those waiting for subsidized housing,
“I see no strategy for senior housing at the City of Calgary and we need to address that because we are coming,” she says.
On Wednesday the city announced plans to sell five plots of land at a steep discount so more affordable housing could be built.
The municipal and federal government have vowed to see 15,000 affordable housing units eventually available in Calgary.
Landry say that’s an admirable goal, but that it only helps a small percentage of the population when tens of thousands of more people are struggling to make ends meet without subsidies.
She says the city should consider capping rent increases through rent control and also legislate benefits for long-term renters.
Still, Gerry Baxter, with the Calgary Residential Association says that approach could potentially backfire
“Right now the market controls the rent” Baxter says. “If the the market says we are in bad shape and we need to reduce the rent, the market will reduce the rent and that’s what we saw over the last few years.”
In fact, Baxter says rent has been dropping in Calgary for the past five years due to the recession.
He also points out there are just 40,000 dedicated rental units in the city, far less than any other major Canadian city.