Answer: The Conservatives have not met their commitment to funding for affordable housing. Proper funding of low-income affordable housing has been hurt because the province does not have a comprehensive housing plan and has treated this as an issue that has received only political attention when it chose. Often the process has not been adequately transparent for how projects are approved and the announcements have been made in ways that have added challenges for municipalities and the proposal proponents. In nearly 20 years since funding of low-income affordable housing was cut by the province it has never begun to recover, while at the same time thousands of units of formerly low-income affordable housing have been lost to other developments. Even in recent years, most of the funding that has been provided for this has come through federal transfers and not represented a commitment of provincial funds. Cities such as Calgary have identified needs for thousands of units of low-income affordable housing. In particular there is a significant need for funding for larger families and those with special accessibility needs.
As the failure to deliver on affordable housing by the current government has continued, other measures that would somewhat alleviate the shortage of affordable housing have also been badly handled by them. The NDP is committed to fully funding the 10-year plan to eliminate homelessness, which has been receiving only about one third of the funding that was called for when it was developed. We would also ensure funding for appropriate rent supplement programs so those experiencing difficulties in their lives do not lose the housing they have, as well as other programs to access near-market housing.
Question: What measures would you be willing to introduce to encourage the participation of the private sector in the development of more affordable housing in the large cities?
Answer: Municipalities have explored options to encourage more private for-profit developers to build low-income affordable housing through measures involving zoning incentives rental suites, and density easements. But generally the for-profit sector will build when there is the potential for profit so the NDP is not supportive of measures involving public money that would support this end. However, financial support for good proposals for building more low-income affordable housing should be welcome from all sources, public, private not-for-profit and private for-profit as long as they are assessed to receive public money based on best ability to deliver value for the funds provided and as long as there are clear rules in place to ensure affordable housing built with public money will remain available to meet this need for a significant time.
Amendments to the MGA to offer support for municipalities to be able to more effectively require fixed amounts of low-income affordable housing as part of the approval for any new developments deserve further consideration.
Alberta's NDP official website - albertandp.ca