Affordable Social Housing is Our Mutual Responsibility
A home is so fundamental to someone’s well-being; their social, economic and overall well-being. But what if someone can’t afford a home or is facing difficulties that make living in one challenging?
The Capital Region Housing Corporation (CRHC) was founded to provide affordable housing and housing subsidy programs for low-income residents in the Edmonton region. In 2016 they helped over 25,000 Albertans live in a home they can afford. However, due to the economic challenges we face as a province, there are over 5,300 families on a wait list for a new home.
The need for social housing is growing in Edmonton. Mayor Don Iveson said that “the need is literally choking our hospitals, jails and back alleys today.” Unfortunately, many of these people in need sleep on the streets, hospital beds and in jails, often fighting addictions to alcohol. Social housing can be a viable solution to these people in need.
Homeward Trust plans on building a new affordable housing facility near Station Pointe, in the neighbourhood of Belvedere. They intend on operating this facility similar to Ambrose Place.
Ambrose Place is a facility that provides affordable housing and supportive housing, with nurses and support staff on site, in the neighbourhood of McCauley. Many of the residents struggle with chronic alcohol or drug addictions. In their first year of operation, the residents of Ambrose Place cut their use of emergency department services by more than half, according to Alberta Health Services. These social housing facilities provide great value to people in urgent need of support, while also reducing the impact on our public healthcare system.
While I’m fully in support of affordable, social housing, there needs to be appropriate consultation and strong operating plans. We don’t want to have a large concentration of these social housing facilities in one area, like Abbottsfield. The neighbourhood of Abbottsfield has a large concentration of row housing and walk-up apartments. The 2011 federal census found a high concentration of poverty in this neighbourhood.
If a neighbourhood has more than eight per cent affordable housing, it’s not optimal. The Belvedere neighbourhood is already at 12 per cent affordable housing. We cannot ignore these numbers. They tell us that Belvedere is already at full capacity. It is time we start to consider moving some of these projects to other neighbourhoods in the city.
Providing affordable housing for all Edmontonians in need is a social responsibility we must all support. Concentrating them all in one area of the city is not fair to the residents and businesses of that neighbourhood. It also places a great deal of stress on the social and medical services that support that neighbourhood. We must work together to support our neighbours in need in every community of our city. For those values are inherent to our values as Canadians.