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UCP Alberta Budget 2024 Disappointment



Edmonton Coalition on Housing and Homelessness
200, 12120-106 Avenue Edmonton Alberta T5N 0Z2

2024 March 03

Budget numbers put lie to claims of commitment to housing

Funds for housing in the Alberta 2024-2025 budget are evidence the government does not have a commitment to the human right to adequate housing.

The Edmonton Coalition on Housing and Homelessness (ECOHH) sees little in the budget to give optimism that the dangerous inadequacy of housing in Alberta will improve.

“A year ago, in advance of the election, ECOHH urged political leaders to commit to investing $600 million a year for a decade to recover from long years of not funding housing,” says ECOHH chair Nadine Chalifoux. “But in this week’s budget we get about half that for this year.”

ECOHH points to City of Edmonton research that 40 000 households live in core housing need-- housing that is too expensive, insecure, or inadequate for their needs. “We need to be building more than 5000 units of new social housing every year in Alberta- housing with rent set to ensure people are not spending more than 30 percent of their income on housing. The money in this budget would take three years to build that much, even if it were all dedicated to such housing. It fails to even keep up with current need, let alone to address decades of built up deficiency,” Chalifoux accuses.

Many Albertans depend on income support programs to be able to pay the rent but the 2024-2025 budget presents a drop in such funding from $835 million in the 2023-2024 year to $789 million in the year ahead. ECOHH questions if people in need of such support will be able to get it, pointing to rumours that new AISH applications may be severely limited. “The budget address brags about funds for 550 more households to qualify for rent supplements to prevent losing market housing but there are thousands of applicants in line for such assistance-- which is often all that keeps them from becoming homeless,” Chalifoux notes.

Edmonton and Calgary have the fastest increasing rents in Canada according to a recent report. The take-over of rental housing by large financial entities adds to the threat of more rent increases.

“The budget fails to provide financial support to renters in risky situations, but perhaps the government intends to bring in tough regulations as part of their legislative agenda this spring to protect consumers from continued rent increases,” muses Chalifoux.

While failure to fund housing is ECOHH’s major concern, the decrease in funding for homelessness outreach and support services from $218 million in the current year to $213 million in 2024-2025 will make it difficult to ensure health and safety for people who have already lost their housing. Poor funding for community mental health services and facilities and for adequate compensation and training for people working in the human services sector adds to the difficulties.

“When investment in housing is dismissed as a priority year after year by the province it starts to look like some people in the community are not as valued as others,” Chalifoux concludes. “Even in practical terms, there is abundant evidence it costs less to ensure housing for every person than to deal with the costs of not doing so. We cannot afford to keep ignoring the housing catastrophe, when we have the resources to do so much better.”


Some key numbers from budget documents:

p 87, Fiscal Plan 2024-27: $257 million for Alberta Social Housing Corporation (includes operating support for

seniors lodges, social housing, specialized housing and rental assistance)

p. 87, Fiscal Plan 2024-27- Decrease in funding of income support programs from $835 million to $789 million

p. 87, Fiscal Plan 2024-27- Decrease in Homeless and outreach support services from $218 million to $213

million

p. 117, Fiscal Plan 2024-27, Capital Plan- details of funding for affordable housing programs

p. 6, 2024-27 Capital Plan, Details by ministry- Seniors, Community and Social Services section- $202.5 million in

2024-25 (includes both seniors and affordable housing expenditures)

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