A report is calling for a change to the way Calgary meets the need for affordable housing.
Undertaken by the City, the report focused on the ability of stakeholders to “independently meet affordable housing needs in Calgary.”
Consulting 26 key stakeholders from various housing organizations from around the city, findings in the report listed funding and increased access to all housing types, including transitional housing with appropriate social supports as the main obstacles to filling gaps found in the city’s affordable housing supply. One of the primary concerns listed in the report, and one that has come up with developers is the supply of land in the city.
“We do know that the City’s got land,” said one comment in the report, which were listed without attribution. “How can they free it up? We’re not looking for land to be given to us but we are looking for an opportunity to be able to have land available. And not just through Calgary Housing Corporation. There are other groups like ours who have the capacity and the desire to provide housing.”
Contributing to the lack of affordable housing in the city has been a shortage of rental accommodation. A recent survey report from CIBC showed Calgary had a rental vacancy rate of just 1.4 per cent – the lowest rental vacancy rate of any city in Canada.
The rental crunch has had many implications for several housing organizations in the city. Brought about by an influx of new Calgarians, diminishing rental supply and increasing rents, organizations like Attainable Homes Calgary Corporation (AHCC), who assist fixed-income Calgarians with the process of buying a home, have seen demand for their service increase dramatically in recent months.
“Last year we experienced a dramatic increase in the number of people exploring the idea of buying an attainable home, rather than renting, and the demand has continued into 2014,” said David Watson AHCC President and CEO.
Discussing demand, the report from the city singled out the city’s homeless and senior’s populations as two key areas moving forward.
One provincial government official quoted in the report said that despite best efforts demand in general, not just among seniors, will be difficult to meet.
“Our goal to begin with under the 10 year plan was to create 8,000 units of affordable housing just for those who are homeless – moving them out of homelessness back into permanent sustainable housing. We’ve only been able to accomplish 1,900 of that provincially.”