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Tuesday, November 30, 2021

$1.5M Edmonton housing grant aims to turn problem properties into affordable housing

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The City of Edmonton has launched a new pilot program to improve housing in the city.

The money is aimed at turning problem properties into affordable housing to support our city’s vulnerable population.

“[The grant] will provide up to one $1.5 million dollars to help non-profits who provide affordable housing acquire properties in mature neighbourhoods that have been considered problem properties,” said Christel Kjenner, the City of Edmonton’s director of affordable housing and homelessness.

Non-profit organizations can apply to the program which offers grant funding up to 40 per cent of construction costs.

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Kjenner said the targeted properties include homes and complexes that are abandoned, poorly maintained or have been associated with crime.

“We’re hoping to help incentivize the acquisition of those types of properties by non-profits who operate affordable housing and have them either rebuild them or remodel them or tear them down and replace them,” Kjenner said.

Cam McDonald with non-profit Right at Home Society said this is a good opportunity, especially during these financially troubling times.

“The need is growing, and we also noticed too that there are also more homeless individuals in and around the (Edmonton) area these days,” McDonald said.

McDonald said the money will help speed up the process, but a lot more is still needed.

“We need about 50,000 additional affordable housing units across Edmonton,” McDonald said.

Right at Home Society has been building and operating affordable homes in north central Edmonton for more than 30 years and has a few projects underway but would like to see more.

“Five thousand (projects), hopefully we can do in the next few years — and that’s not just ourselves but the whole community getting together, including our stakeholders with the city, to try and help alleviate the affordable housing issue growing in our city,” McDonald said.

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The grant comes from the city’s $133-million affordable housing investment plan, which has the goal of creating 2,500 new units through grants by 2022.

As of February 2021, city council has approved support for 1,187 units of affordable housing and 289 units of supportive housing.

The application deadline for the new pilot program is May 24, 2021.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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