EDMONTON – Capital Region Housing has seen a massive spike in applications for social and affordable housing in the last year-and-a-half.
The wait list for the group – which provides social and affordable housing in the Edmonton area – now sits at 4,300.
To compare, it was just 1,200 in the fall of 2014.
Greg Dewling, Capital Region Housing Corporation CEO, said this is the biggest spike the group has ever seen.
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He was shocked to discover there are almost as many people on the wait list as there are total units.
“Supply is not meeting need,” Mayor Don Iveson said. “We desperately need two things: we need to reinvest in the existing units which are approaching end of life and we need to add to that inventory.”
A spokesperson said the demand is only continuing to grow. In fact, it’s seeing close to 200 more applications per month.
“The underlying issue is that we haven’t added new supply in this country in a big way of social housing, even to keep up with growth,” Iveson said. “But we [Edmonton] have, in some ways, more complex needs with a fast-growing indigenous population and with additional commitments with bring refugees to the country.”
Edmonton’s mayor said the city needs support from both provincial and federal governments.
“We’re hearing encouraging murmurs from provincial and federal sources about a desire and recognition of the need to reinvest in renewing the existing social housing stock and building new units,” Iveson said. “We’ll wait and see until it’s actually in the budgets.”
Iveson explained the most vulnerable people concentrate in big cities, which is why social housing is such an important priority for Canadian mayors.
“This is why we need considerable investment from both provincial and federal governments. Local governments stand ready to assist with land and facilitation in order to make these projects a reality soon.”
CRHC believes the driving factor is Alberta’s struggling economy.
CRHC manages over 4,500 social housing rental units and over 400 affordable housing rental units.
More to come…
With files from Kendra Slugoski, Global News