A Focused Housing Plan - With Permanent Supportive at the Top

In 2016 there were over 1700 homeless people and over 48,000 renter households experiencing housing affordability issues in Edmonton. With only 18,000 affordable housing units in Edmonton, there is a severe supply gap of 916 permanent supportive housing units 25,484 social housing units and 21,550 affordable housing units.

In 2015 the city passed the Affordable Housing Strategy - a 10-year plan to guide the City of Edmonton to maintain and increase the supply of affordable housing, help transition people out of homelessness and respond to housing and homeless needs. Our current Housing Investment Plan was designed to stay the course with the dwindling funds coming from the other levels of government. With both the provincial and federal governments now promising funding to help tackle this national problem, it is time for us as a city to make a commitment to help those people struggling to keep a roof over their heads.

On April 25th Council decided to place a high priority on the development of 916 units of Permanent Supportive Housing over the next six years. A good example of permanent supportive housing would be Ambrose Place which has helped many of its residents reduce the risks of drug and alcohol use. Administration will report back on August 13th with an assessment of whether all the resources are in place to achieve that goal.

Council has agreed that all areas of Edmonton have a responsibility to help provide affordable homes in their neighbourhoods

Other policy around affordable housing is still on its way. On June 7th a report is due for a city-wide affordable housing framework where we will discuss a policy and draft list of our other housing priorities. From that we will be creating an investment plan for each of these priorities, to be due in September. With those new funding dollars we will be able to make solid commitments to helping Edmontonians struggling with housing find, stay and thrive in their homes.

However, the work does not stop there. Councillor McKeen and I are working together on an initiative to increase the supply of affordable housing in Edmonton. By June we will have a work plan that will focus on building as many units as possible in partnership with Edmonton’s wide array of housing providers and our provincial and federal partners. Stay tuned for more information on that.

Having worked directly with the homeless population I know first hand that these 1700 people, as broken as they can be, are neighbours to all of us. We must help lift them up as they have been left behind with no one to standing up for them. As well, with rents and prices of homes becoming more and more unaffordable this is not just about housing for the chronically homeless but also helping the average Edmontonians who are struggling to make ends meet. With the help of other levels of government, I hope we can make some real progress in the coming years to make changes that will help the real people facing homelessness or a risk of becoming homeless.