(Advocate file photo)

(Advocate file photo)

City council approves seeking supportive housing funding

Red Deer hopes to tap federal funding for municipal housing incentive grant

Red Deer city council hopes to tap a federal housing fund to set up a new $6 million municipal incentive grant that would be used to create up to 80 permanent supportive housing units.

A report to council states private developers would have a far better chance of getting provincial funding for their supportive housing projects if they formed funding partnerships with municipalities. The province is actively seeking applications for its $68 million Affordable Housing Partnership Program.

“When municipalities act as funding partners, it incentivizes development of much needed housing, which is what we aim to do with this grant program,” said Kristin Walsh, city manager of safe and healthy communities.

“Having this grant program supported by council now allows us to identify shovel-ready projects in the community and, if successful in receiving the grant from the Government of Alberta, allow us to allocate funding for these projects quickly.”

Supportive housing is defined as subsidized accommodation with on-site supports for single adults, seniors and people with disabilities who are at risk of, or experiencing, homelessness. These supports help people find and maintain stable housing.

Council heard there are 115 people, including five families, on a waiting list for housing. Seven of those people have been waiting more than a year.

Red Deer previously failed to get funding through three rounds of a Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation housing initiative. Since then, city staff have met with local organizations and stakeholders to improve the city’s position when its next funding applications are reviewed.

Ottawa recently introduced a $4 billion federal Housing Accelerator Fund that’s open for municipal applications for housing projects.

City administrators already applied to get $15 million from this federal fund. If this amount comes through this fall, the City of Red Deer could put $6 million of the federal money toward the 80-unit previously proposed supportive housing project.

“I think this is a very exciting opportunity for our community,” said Coun. Cindy Jefferies, who hoped that this time the city was holding the winning lottery ticket for funding.

Coun. Kraymer Barnstable was also hopeful the additional work done by staff will pay off.

“I think we’re going in well prepared and we’ve done our due diligence on this.”

Mayor Ken Johnston said he has been involved in efforts to build more affordable housing for a decade and funding help has been hard to come by.

“I really think the stars have aligned. I feel really good this grant application is going to get some mileage.”

A Request for Information to learn about potential shovel-ready permanent supportive housing projects in Red Deer will be posted on the city’s bids and tenders website section.

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