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Airdrie approves $750,000 Affordable Housing fund

During the Dec. 4 council meeting, Council approved an internally restricted interest-bearing reserve of $750,000 from the estimated surplus at the end of the year.
City council met April 3 and declared April 15 to 21 Nation Volunteer Week in Airdrie.
City council met Dec. 4 and approved a new affordable housing fund.

A new affordable housing reserve fund was established by the City of Airdrie that will support future affordable housing projects in the community.

During the Dec. 4 council meeting, Council approved an internally restricted interest-bearing reserve of $750,000 from the estimated surplus at the end of the year.

“This amount is equivalent to a one per cent tax rate in 2024,” said Monica Labait, manager of revenue and assessment services. “This would be enough money for pre-development costs for two projects depending on the size of the land involved. There are some potential projects that require funding to get things going now.”

Coun. Al Jones questioned where the surplus was coming from as council previously decided in budget deliberations to use the surplus to reduce municipal taxes with the remainder going into capital reserves. 

Labait noted this request is from the same surplus, reducing the amount going into the capital reserve at the end of the year.

The estimated surplus going into capital reserves is around $2 million, according to Labait, and by putting $750,000 into the affordable housing reserve, the rest would go into capital reserves. 

The affordable housing fund would allow projects to utilize inter-government funding that is contingent on municipal contributions.

According to Jessica DeVreeze, Airdrie’s resident housing policy strategist, the last two affordable housing projects received support from the City and were able to leverage a total of $4 million in external funding. 

In 2023, no requests were made to the province for funding local below-market housing projects and there are no projects slated for 2024 and beyond.

“We’re leaving money on the table in terms of leveraging significant funds from the higher orders of government to address our housing shortage,” DeVreeze said. “Land and cash is required from the municipality for below market housing projects that serve our residents in need.”

The affordable housing reserve fund will help to achieve the cash side of the equation, she added. Land option reports will come to council in the future.

DeVreeze said the City’s housing crisis is expected to worsen and an effort is required now for long term change.

Two-thousand families were in core housing need in 2021, but due to CERB payments, inflation, and ongoing reduction of lower housing cost options, more families are in need now, she said.

“I think we all know that the number one need in this community is affordable housing, [as it is] across the country and across the province,” said Coun. Ron Chapman. “We’ve known for years that this city is lacking in affordable housing. I support [these funds] going into this reserve and especially with the interest staying in the reserve, I think that’s a great idea.”

Council commented that these funds have to be available for the projects to be eligible for matching grant opportunities.

While he agreed to establish the reserve, Mayor Peter Brown voiced his concern about putting their money towards something the federal and provincial governments are responsible for.

Masha Scheele

About the Author: Masha Scheele

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