Affordable housing is a word that gets used a lot when we talk about the economy, poverty and the state of the housing market in Canada. But what does that term really mean? The definition from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) is that affordable housing is ‘housing that costs less than 30 per cent of before-tax household income.’
For others, affordable housing is something that means they don’t have to choose between having a home or buying groceries for their family. It means that they have a sense of security and community, and are not forced to live in an unhealthy environment. It is part of the housing spectrum, which ranges from emergency shelter to market rental and home ownership – you can find affordable housing somewhere in the middle of that spectrum. According to the Canadian Government, one in four Canadian households is paying more than it can afford for housing and one in eight households cannot find affordable housing that is safe, suitable, and well maintained. Many cities are facing a crisis, including Calgary. And why should all people in Calgary care about affordable housing? Because it helps all citizens thrive – people, businesses, families and communities. A number of factors will only add to the number of people in Calgary who will need affordable housing in the future including declines in the market rental supply, loss of rental units to condominium conversion and demand factors such as population trends and economy influence housing need.
The Calgary Drop-In Centre has been part of the solution to affordable housing in Calgary with Bridgeland Manor and Sundial, both affordable housing units that have been very successful. Now the DI’s latest project would transform a hotel in northeast Calgary into mixed-use affordable housing. It would include permanent supportive housing and ground-floor retail and commercial space. It will be a place to call home for families, seniors and single adults, allowing them to feel a part of the community once again.