Alberta is spending an extra $16 million to fix up aging government-owned affordable housing units to make them inhabitable once again.
Social Services Minister Jason Nixon says the money is on top of the $94 million already allocated in this year’s budget.
The money will be used to replace windows and repair roofs along with other rehabilitation projects.
Nixon says the government is working with housing providers to identify which units should get priority.
He says over the next eight years, the government aims to invest $9 billion to build 25,000 new affordable homes.
But he says in the meantime, they need to fix up the homes that already exist.
“The No. 1 thing that I’ve heard from our housing partner providers is that we must focus on capital maintenance and renewal, in particular targeted units (that) with a little bit of maintenance could come online and be able to help with the housing situation that we face right now,” Nixon told a news conference in Calgary Wednesday.
“Since 2019, we’ve already invested nearly $700 million in housing and built more than 4,600 units of housing.”
Arlene Adamson, head of the Alberta Seniors and Community Housing Association, said it’s a pressing issue that threatens to continue to squeeze aging Albertans.
“Nearly 700,000 Albertans spend more than 30 per cent of their income on housing alone,” said Adamson.
“One in seven Albertans are seniors and this will grow to one in five by 2046. We need to repair and invest and protect the existing housing stock and advance new capital to meet the demand.”
Earlier Wednesday, Opposition NDP housing critic Janis Irwin said the UCP government is failing Albertans on housing and on affordability.
“The 2023 provincial budget forecasted 38,000 new housing units, but that target will be missed by at least 7,000, and the provincial government is actually on pace to build fewer total units this year than they did last,” said Irwin in a statement.
“I’ve been flooded with stories from Albertans who’ve been priced out of their homes, who’ve experienced enormous and unexpected rent hikes, and I’ve listened to heartbreaking stories from families whose budgets simply cannot manage these dramatic increases.”