Many Calgarians are unable to afford housing in Calgary’s still-inflated housing market. Experiencing an economic downturn alongside the pandemic has only worsened the situation .
The City has a plan that could end housing scarcity in Calgary, but it is largely dependent on funding from other levels of government. Safe, accessible housing is a human right that must be extended to every Calgarian regardless of their income status. Providing housing is the most humane way to address the issue. We can invest now, or spend more later on things like policing and emergency room health services.
The need for safe, high-quality, affordable housing in Calgary has grown in recent years
- To keep up with current demand, Calgary is in need of 2,000-2,500 new affordable homes each year. Over the last 10 years, an average of 300 affordable homes/year have been completed.
- More than 100,000 Calgary households are forecast to be in housing need by 2025.
- A lack of access to housing disproportionately affects those who are also experiencing other forms of marginalization including, racialized Calgarians, Indigenous Calgarians, those with disabilities, LGBTQIA2S+, and others.
Urgent action is required by all levels of government to address the shortage of affordable housing units
- Although housing access isn’t part of municipal mandates under the Municipal Government Act, the city is forced to provide these services because of inaction by other orders of government.
- Reducing barriers to accessing affordable housing will enable low income Calgarians to easily meet their needs and reduce the strain on emergency housing such as shelters.
- Housing security positively affects quality of life for citizens and also decreases reliance on social services such as health care and food banks.
- The City of Calgary must continue to pressure the federal and provincial governments to provide funding for the COVID-19 Community Affordable Housing Advocacy Plan.
The quality and safety standards for Calgary Housing Units need to be improved to meet not only minimum standards, but raised to a humane level
- Regular maintenance and annual inspections must be performed. Standards need to be improved to ensure all Calgarians can enjoy a high-quality standard of living.
- Multigenerational housing must be prioritized as a means of providing culturally-appropriate options for Calgary’s aging population.
- Options for housing must be co-designed with the communities the housing is intended to support, providing space for communal meals, religious gatherings or festivities, and incorporating measures to increase the well-being of residents.
- Geographic location and proximity to transit and amenities must be considered when choosing locations for affordable housing.
- Wraparound services for Calgary’s diverse residents, including newcomers, those who are racialized, and Indigenous people, must be incorporated.
- Unique accessibility requirements of residents, for example those with reduced mobility, must be taken into consideration in any new designs as well as in retrofitting existing structures.
New affordable housing and housing retrofits must be designed to meet environmental building code standards
This will reduce energy costs for families and enable the City to meet Calgary's Climate Resilience Strategy building performance goals.
see our related position on Climate Security
While poverty affects the entire community in various ways, Calgary’s Indigenous population is disproportionately affected
- While Indigenous people make up less than 3% of Calgary’s population, they make up 21.1% of its homeless population.
- In order to successfully address the disproportionate levels of poverty faced by Indigenous people in Calgary, measures used must be trauma-informed, co-led with Indigenous people and fulfill the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Calls to Action.
see our related position on Poverty Reduction
see our related position on Indigenous Inclusion & Reconciliation
Any affordable housing strategy should also consider a wide range of forms of housing
- The City must continue to streamline the process of approving secondary suites and laneway housing. Subsidizing some associated costs will decrease the number of illegal secondary suites and increase the safety, supply and overall affordability of these units.
- A wide range of housing types and configurations should be provided and should be well integrated into mixed income community contexts.
Increasing the quality and supply of affordable housing in Calgary will aid in our economic recovery in many ways, including by creating thousands of construction jobs and increasing Calgary’s desirability as a place to live.
Links and Resources
- Rapid Housing Initiative (Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation)
- Affordable Housing in Calgary (City of Calgary)
- COVID-19 Community Affordable Housing Advocacy Plan (The Community Plan), (City of Calgary)
- Community Housing Affordability Collective