I am elated that Council passed Calgary’s Housing Strategy this Saturday, after three days of public hearings.
I want this to give hope to Calgarians struggling with housing and affordability. No single one of the Housing Strategy actions is a complete solution; rather, the combined efforts of the intact strategy enables more housing to be built across the spectrum of affordability.
While the work we do as a city will not mitigate all the other external housing pressures, we are choosing to lead and taking action. We will not wait for the Provincial government. We will not wait for the Federal government. We will adjust our polices to enable more housing and that is the step we have taken because it is the right thing to do.
To the 160 Calgarians who spoke and the many more who wrote in support of this strategy; thank you. You have demonstrated that we are more about the Why than the Why Not, more about what we are For, not what we are Against.
Amendments made to the Housing Strategy include:
What happens next?
Related information, resources:
If you are interested in listening to the public hearing, including committee questions, amendments, debate, and decisions related to the Housing Strategy, visit Community Development Committee - September 14, 2023 (escribemeetings.com) (Time to watch: ~35 hours).
~20 min: Land Acknowledgement and opening remarks from Committee Chair, Councillor Penner
~28 min: Comments from the City Manager
~30 min: Presentation from Administration
~42 min: The Public Hearing
~25 hour: questions of Administration, amendments, debate, and decision
You can view the agenda and recording of Special Meeting of Council - September 16, 2023 (escribemeetings.com) where the Strategy was passed by council with amendments:
The City of Calgary’s Housing Strategy
City of Calgary’s Housing Needs Assessment
Kourtney's previous statements regarding the Housing and Affordability Recommendations
Related: See Kourtney's statement on Council Approving the Housing Strategy
I ran on a platform about community, about Calgarians. Community is built by people, for people. Community-first as a principle inherently recognizes that we all have something to contribute and that our shared experiences and collective offerings make our city better than any one action by any one person.
Neighbourhoods are a collection of homes, but it is the people who live in those homes that make a community. In our city, people are being left behind in alarming numbers causing stress across communities as people struggle to find or retain affordable housing.
Why is the conversation about housing so critical?
According to the Housing Needs Assessment, Calgarians continue to experience the financial pressures of both affordable home ownership and rent.
The rate of housing need has remained unchanged at 17-18 per cent over the past three decades, however the absolute number of households in need has doubled over that period.
The report highlights the median home price is $495,000 which requires an annual household income of $156,000. However, the median household income in Calgary is $98,000.
For those looking to rent, an annual income of $84,000 is needed to adequately afford average market rent in 2023. That number has increased from $67,000 in 2022.
I encourage you to read through the Housing Needs Assessment to understand how our actions are critical for not just the lowest income earners, but for all Calgarians seeking housing.
How did we get to the recommendations before committee?
In June of 2022, I co-sponsored a Notice of Motion with Councillors Walcott and Carra to develop a Housing and Affordability Task Force. We recognized that housing for all, and how we as a city address the current and looming challenges, needed expert advice. Facing a complex crisis, we recognized the best advice we could act on should be rooted in policy and research. Council approved this direction of the Notice of Motion by a vote of 12-3.
In June of 2023, the recommendations from the experts on the Housing Task Force were adopted by council to be considered as part of the refreshed corporate Housing Strategy.
What is next for Calgary?
A crisis requires swift action and community participation. The solution is a collective understanding and willingness to take bold actions to ensure no Calgarian is left behind.
The Housing Strategy coming before committee on September 14th is a plan for how we, as a city can enable more housing for all Calgarians. This includes both market and non-market housing; City led, developer led, resident led. The strategy incorporates 33 recommended actions from the Housing and Affordability Task Force on matters of planning, budget implications, land use, and a call to everyone to be part of the solution.
No single one of these actions is a complete solution; rather, the combined efforts have the potential to enable up to 1000 new homes annually in established areas, and 3000 new affordable housing units to be constructed across the city each year. By leveraging our actions alongside Federal and Provincial initiatives, Calgary stands to create even more homes for students, seniors, and families.
As Councillor, it is my responsibility to look at not only Ward 11 but the collective situation of the city based on evidence and data to ground my decision for the collective good.
I can’t remember a day in recent months without seeing an article about the challenges of finding housing in our city. Our office has received numerous messages from a diversity of residents sharing their stories of precarious situations due to this housing crisis, seeking information about housing rights and access to affordable housing.
I look forward to hearing your continued feedback on the recommendations in the coming days. I remain committed to making bold decisions so our city can offer opportunity through leading policy towards equity, access, and affordability.
1. Student Retention
For the second year in a row, post-secondary students are raising the alarm about the availability of student housing. Residences are full and housing off campus is limited and costly.
Attracting and retaining students who are key employees for many businesses and future city leaders must be a priority for council. As more students look for seats in universities and as the province looks to open more seats, our housing environment must be able to support students.
2. Economic Attraction
The relocation of large businesses, expansion of companies, or the desire for companies to start up requires the availability of homes for workers. Whether it is Amazon delivery hubs or the next tech unicorn, we need homes across the affordability spectrum to drive economic activity in our city. Recognized by industry leaders, see for yourself the letters submitted to council.
The cost of housing, both rental and ownership has risen drastically in the past three years. As supply decreases the costs to rent or own are going up. Creating more homes to offset the supply pressures are critical to continue to be a city with affordable homes (the ratio of housing cost to income).
4. Long Term Supply
As homes age, their viability, especially from an energy efficiency standpoint, decreases. Creating an environment which allows a quicker lifecycle of homes ensures the supply can be sustained and won’t cause future low-supply stressors on the market.
Currently population growth is outpacing the construction of new homes. Without swift action, low supply will continue to drive higher home and rental prices.
5. Community Vibrancy
Most established neighbourhoods are well below their peak population. New homes increase the likely hood of a base population that can support schools staying open, thriving local businesses, and a population ratio for city services like transit, recreation, and libraries. Walkable communities lead to healthier lives and promote a sense of neighbourliness.
6. National Competitiveness
Calgary is regularly benchmarked against other Canadian municipalities based on home and rental prices but also now being discussed is availability of homes and the pressure those moving here are placing on the market. As people have the opportunity to work from most places across the country, our offerings of cost of living balanced against lifestyle will be measured by those looking to pick their next home. Calgary will only remain attractive so long as we have the home supply to keep prices affordable and the process of purchasing or renting isn’t so cumbersome that people give up trying.
7. Job Creation
Housing retrofits, remodels, new builds, and infills all provide jobs in the housing sector. Trades, architects, designers and decorators, small flooring store operators and installers, just a few among the many who rely on a sector to fill and create jobs. These companies employ bookkeepers, accountants, administrators, and other professionals to support their businesses. Across the city, many local companies from lighting stores to paint stores hire and employ. Our continued investment into creating more housing means these jobs are steady and stable for years to come.
8. Tax Stability
More homes spread out the collection of taxes by both provincial and municipal governments. Currently the biggest driver in rising property taxes are home evaluation price due to market pressures, not tax increases (in 2023 the mill rate was lower than 2022). Due to drastically fluctuating home valuations, the ability to budget becomes increasingly difficult for the City which has led to surpluses, which we know angers residents. More homes in the market in all neighbourhoods stabilizes housing prices as demand can keep up with supply.
9. Choice in Housing
North American wide people are making different choices on the type of home they’d like to live in. Having a market with mixed opportunities in sizes, format, and price ensure all lifestyles contribute to a thriving city. Choice in housing also means different people of different means are likely to have more equitable access to services like schools, transit, parks, and recreation.
10. Aging in Place
Aging in place is about more than staying in your house, it is about the ability to stay in your neighbourhood close to the services that are familiar to you. Many of the communities in our city do not offer a variety in scale and form that allow seniors to move into housing formats near the services they’re most comfortable and familiar with at a price that’s affordable.
People without homes, need homes. People need an address to get a job, open a bank account, sign a phone contract. These are basics many of us take for granted. Housing, with or without supports allows many to start their journey out of homelessness and poverty.
The risk level of people becoming unhoused is very high. With over 6000 people on waitlists across the city for affordable housing, eviction or the inability to resign a lease with a monthly rent increase is a struggle many Calgarians are facing.
On September 14th, Calgary's updated corporate housing strategy goes before Community Development Committee. This is an opportunity for the public to speak to the recommendations.
Read Home is Here: Calgary's Housing Strategy