Like many cities across Canada, Calgary is experiencing a housing affordability crisis. Housing is becoming harder and harder to find, and in the last year alone the average rental price for a two bedroom apartment in Calgary jumped 22% up to $2,024 per month.
Is the City of Calgary doing enough to address the problem? Read on to find out.
What’s a housing affordability crisis, anyway?
To begin with, you might wonder what we mean by “housing affordability crisis”.
One measure of affordability is the price-to-income ratio, which describes the relationship between the sale price of a property and the income of potential buyers.
According to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, a 5:1 price-to-income ratio is an important indicator of housing affordability. Calgary has already surpassed this marker with a price-to-income ratio of nearly 6:1, which means Calgary’s housing market is considered to be severely unaffordable.
Right now 42,000 households in Calgary spend more than 50% of their gross income on shelter costs, putting them at imminent risk of homelessness. For single-income families, the situation is particularly precarious.
Why is a housing affordability crisis happening in Calgary?
Calgary is experiencing rapid population growth. Over 42,000 people moved to Calgary last year, and it’s predicted that 110,000 more people will move to Calgary over the next four years. That means Calgary needs to welcome 75 people per day!
Unfortunately there isn’t enough housing to keep up. That scarcity is causing prices to spike, and people can’t afford to pay.
How is the City of Calgary addressing the housing affordability crisis?
Housing affordability is a big issue, and all levels of government have a role to play in addressing the crisis. So what actions are we taking at the municipal level here in Calgary?
In June of 2022, Calgary City Council decided to create a Housing Affordability Task Force. The Task Force was formed that summer, and in the fall of 2022 they started meeting and performing research to better understand the housing crisis. Based on their findings, they developed a list of recommendations for the City of Calgary.
But when the Task Force presented their findings to Calgary City Council in the spring of 2023, the majority of Council actually voted against the recommendations. Why? We’re not exactly sure.
The Task Force’s recommendations are real, pragmatic approaches to addressing Calgary’s housing affordability crisis. They offer a practical direction forward.
And we’re not the only ones who think that way. When Calgary City Council voted against accepting the Task Force’s recommendations, they were met with a huge public outcry.
Politicians, journalists, political analysts, and everyday citizens from across the country spoke up and criticized Council’s decision.
The very next day, Calgary City Council revisited the issue and reversed their decision. This time, 8 out of 11 councillors voted in favour of accepting the recommendations. In the fall of 2023, Council will meet to discuss how to implement them.
What can we do to help?
Now that they’ve accepted the Task Force’s recommendations, we need to work together to hold Calgary City Council accountable. We need to make sure they implement the Task Force’s recommendations and commit adequate resources to solving the housing crisis.
Together, let’s demand that the City of Calgary invest in more publicly funded, publicly delivered affordable housing.
Ready to speak up for more affordable housing in Calgary? Take action now