Calgary’s housing affordability crisis is escalating. Housing costs and rent prices continue to skyrocket and they show no sign of slowing down. Right now more than 80,000 households are in need of affordable housing, and that number is growing.
To address the housing crisis, Calgary City Council recently voted in favour of implementing a list of recommendations made by the Housing Affordability Task Force. But what does that mean? And what’s next for affordable housing in Calgary? Read on to find out.
What’s the Housing Affordability Task Force, anyway?
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. This decision was 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.
But that was just the beginning—accepting the recommendations was only a preliminary step, and there was no guarantee as to when or how the recommendations would be implemented.
Implementing the Housing Affordability Task Force recommendations
Having agreed to accept the recommendations, Calgary City Council met in the fall of 2023 and held a public hearing about implementing those recommendations. That hearing happened over several days in mid-September, 2023, and the public came out in droves to make sure that City Council knew how important this is to Calgarians.
More than a thousand people emailed their City Councillors, and more than 150 Calgarians signed up to speak in-person at the Council hearing to share their stories and convey the urgency of the housing crisis. There was even a rally On September 14 at City Hall. Hundreds of concerned citizens showed up to demand action on the housing crisis.
These public demonstrations had an impact. On September 16, 2023, City Council voted 12-3 in favour of implementing the Housing Affordability Task Force Recommendations. While this vote was an important step forward, there’s still a lot of work to do to actually get more affordable housing built.
What’s next for affordable housing in Calgary?
In the spring of 2024, there will be public consultations about the actual implementation of the Task Force’s recommendations and the upzoning required to get more affordable housing built. It will be extremely important for all of us to come together and advocate for the quickest and most accessible implementation possible during these consultations. Stay tuned for ways to get involved!
In the meantime, there’s a major hurdle to overcome this fall: the City of Calgary needs to commit to funding more affordable housing projects when they revisit the city budget this November.
The Housing Affordability Task Force’s recommendations specify that the City of Calgary’s annual budget should include $100 million for affordable housing initiatives. This amount is the bare minimum required to make an impact on Calgary’s housing affordability crisis.
When Calgary City Council revisits their budget, they’ll have an opportunity to make adjustments for next year. This includes approving the $100 million annual investment that’s necessary to improve affordable housing infrastructure. We need to make sure they make this investment.
Will you help hold City Council accountable and make sure they commit to investing in more affordable housing this November?