Three City-owned development sites awarded to affordable housing providers in Calgary

The City of Calgary has awarded three parcels of City-owned land in the communities of Saddleridge, Seton and Highland Park to non-profit affordable housing providers, creating about 100 new homes for Calgarians in need.

The sites were offered to non-profits at below market value in January 2020, as part of a Council-approved policy to release up to 10 parcels of developable land every two years to scale up the capacity of non-profit affordable housing providers. Successful applicants automatically qualified for grant funding through The City’s Housing Incentive Program (HIP) and Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s (CMHC) SEED Funding program.

“The non-profit land sale is a tangible way The City can support the growth of non-profit housing providers while creating safe and secure housing for Calgary populations which are typically underserved, and who need it right now,” says Sarah Woodgate, Director of Calgary Housing.

New to the program in 2020, successful applicants are automatically considered to receive funding under CMHC’s National Housing Co-Investment Fund. This unique, inter-governmental partnership reduces red tape for applicants and leverages additional federal funding for Calgary. 

“Every Canadian deserves a safe and affordable place to call home. That is why our Government created Canada’s first National Housing Strategy which, with the help of our partners, will ensure that each Canadian has access to a safe and affordable place to call home that meets their needs through initiatives such as this one in City of Calgary,” says the Honourable Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Families, Children and Social Development and Minister responsible for Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.

The Seton site in Ward 12 has been awarded to HomeSpace Society. Since 2016, HomeSpace has developed 10 properties, generating more than 370 new homes for vulnerable Calgarians, while partnering with over 15 community service agencies to serve some of the most challenging needs with permanent supportive housing. The Seton project proposes up to 50 stacked 2- to 3-bedroom townhomes, designed with families in mind.

The Highland Park site in Ward 4 has been awarded to the Aboriginal Friendship Centre of Calgary (AFCC), who plan to develop up to ten 1-bedroom units to serve as seniors housing for Indigenous Elders. AFCC has been providing permanent, supportive housing to single Aboriginal Calgarians for almost 10 years. Their community partnerships enable them to provide culturally relevant services to urban Aboriginal persons in the Calgary area.

The Saddleridge site in Ward 5 has been awarded to the Dashmesh Culture Centre (DCC). DCC is one of the largest faith-based organizations in Calgary and views serving the community – especially new immigrant families – an extension of their faith. Their proposed project will serve women and children fleeing domestic violence, which comes from a growing need they have seen in the community they serve. DCC is considering a range of options that could create ten homes at the lower end and 70 homes at the higher end.

“Our Elders deserve high quality, safe and accessible housing, and this project will provide that to our most cherished and important community members,” said Shane Gauthier, CEO of the AFCC. “With our developer, Landstar, and our architect, NORR, we’re excited about the vision we’re creating together. It will be the first of its kind in Calgary. When opened, this facility will incorporate a cutting-edge design that brings modern conveniences and Indigenous culture together.”

The City’s affordable housing strategy identifies the need to add 15,000 new affordable homes from 2015 to 2025, bringing Calgary closer in line with the national average for non-market housing as a share of total housing stock for major urban centres. Enabling Calgary’s community of affordable housing providers, while leveraging funding from other orders of government, is a significant part of The City’s strategy to reach the national average.

“Every Calgarian deserves to live a life of dignity. Safe, affordable housing is foundational to this principle, and the need in Calgary is growing,” says Mayor Naheed Nenshi. “The City is working hard with all orders of government to increase the supply of affordable housing. Through this program, we’re selling City land at below market value while coordinating to ensure that successful applicants automatically qualify for CMHC and City grant funding.”

This is The City’s second non-profit land sale. The first was held in 2018 and resulted in the sale of six development sites, generating up to 165 new affordable homes. The pilot demonstrated how The City’s land contribution can be leveraged to bring further investment in affordable housing: The City invested $6.4 million in land value, which brought in more than $30 million in federal, philanthropic and private-sector funding for the resulting projects. The program will run again in 2021/2022 and could offer up to 10 parcels of developable land.

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