$14.9M from Ottawa to create affordable housing units in Edmonton

Edmonton will receive an additional $14.9 million from the federal government to create approximately 68 new affordable housing units.

The city aims to create 68 units, with a goal of 600 affordable housing units by next year.

The federal dollars are being dispersed to cities through the Rapid Housing Initiative (RHI) delivered by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation under the National Housing Strategy.

“Every Canadian deserves a safe and affordable place to call home,” said Minister of Families, Children and Social Development Ahmed Hussen.

He said the money announced Tuesday, "will go a long way to support those who need it most by quickly providing new affordable homes for vulnerable individuals and families in Edmonton to keep them safe." 

In October 2020, the federal government pledged $1 billion in housing funding for the homeless. 

In that first round of funding, the Rapid Housing Initiative exceeded its original target of 3,000 affordable housing units and created 4,700 units, according to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.

Another $1.5 billion was allocated to create an additional 4,500 units across the country. The initiative will create a total of 9,200 affordable homes for the most vulnerable.

Mayor Don Iveson said the funding will make strides in reducing homelessness and stresses on law enforcement and health services.

With the pandemic having a disproportionate impact on the vulnerable population, Iveson said the funds are to ensure “no one gets left behind” as the economy reopens.

“COVID-19 has underlined the fact that without addressing social inequalities like homelessness, we undermine Alberta’s resiliency and our ability to bounce back as a community. This is why a shared commitment to ending homelessness among all orders of government is so crucial to our communities’ future success,” said Iveson.

“This is about making sure everybody has a better quality of life. It is also making sure everyone has a equal chance of success because housing matters now more than ever because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Our homes have become places of sanctuary, refuge and safety,” added the federal minister.

Iveson is asking for $7.9 million in funding from the provincial government to ensure on-site supportive services are available. He said he will be sending another letter to the provincial government emphasizing the importance of affordable housing.

“We still need the provincial government to step up to ensure that these units have the embedded on-site operating support they need to ensure people remain housed and society gets all of those health and justice and social disorder benefits of keeping people successfully housed,” said Iveson.

According to the mayor, a lack of provincial commitment in the last RHI phase meant the city left about $68 million on the table that could have built more units.

“What Alberta’s government needs is a concrete plan from the City of Edmonton that will allow us to work collaboratively to ensure unhoused Edmontonians have access to housing," said Rob Williams, the press secretary for Alberta's community and social services minister.

"We look forward to reviewing Mayor Iveson’s letter, and finding an innovative approach to ensure we are supporting these folks.”