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.