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Government Responds to Task Force Report with $285 Million in New Funding

by NationTalk on April 24, 2007642 Views

News Release
April 24, 2007

New funding will address immediate housing needs

Budget 2007, housing highlights:

~ The new Municipal Sustainability Housing Program has a budget of $100 million per year, for three years.
~ Capital Enhancement to increase affordable housing a further $96 million in 2007-08.
~ Homeless support will receive more than $35 million, an increase of $13 million.
~ The Provincial Homeless Initiative will receive $6 million, an increase of $3 million.
~ Rent Supplement Program will receive more than $33 million, an increase of $14.3 million.
~ Support to Housing Providers and Special Purpose Housing has been allocated close to $43 million, an increase of $4.3 million.
~ The new Affordable Housing Program including $45 million allocated to Fort McMurray for 300 affordable housing units.
~ The Off-Reserve Aboriginal Housing Program’s budget for the year is $16 million.
~ The new Homeless and Eviction Fund receives $7 million.
~ The new Alberta Transitional Housing Initiative will receive $2.5 million.Edmonton… The province has increased the housing budget by $285 million to address immediate housing pressures as identified by the Alberta Affordable Housing Task Force Report.

“Housing is an important issue for Albertans and a top priority for our government,” said Premier Ed Stelmach. “We are delivering with increased funding for rent supplements, supports for shelters and homeless initiatives and affordable housing units.”

The cornerstone to this new funding is the establishment of the new Municipal Sustainability Housing Program, which will provide $100 million each year for three years. This funding will be targeted to high-growth, high-need municipalities to help ease growth pressures in these communities. The funding is part of the new Municipal Sustainability Initiative, which will provide municipalities with long-term sustainable funding for the next 10 years.

The government will also deliver $96 million for enhanced capital support in 2007-08, absorbing this cost within current resources. These programs as well as our partnerships with other orders of government and the private and not-for-profit sectors are expected to lead to the development of more than 11,000 affordable housing units over the next five years.

“The Task Force provided government with a comprehensive report, and I want to thank the Task Force members for their incredible dedication,” said Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister Ray Danyluk. “Government has delivered a balanced response that assists Albertans who are struggling with the pressures of growth.”

For renters, amendments will be introduced in the current sitting of the legislature that will limit rent increases to once per year. This will apply to both fixed-term and periodic leases. The minimum three-month notice on rent increases will continue to be in place. As well, under the amendments, landlords wanting to end a tenancy to do major renovations or to convert a rental unit to a condominium will need to provide at least one-year notice. No rental increases will be allowed during that year. These changes will involve amendments to both the Residential Tenancies Act and the Mobile Home Sites Tenancies Act. If passed, the amendments will be retroactive to April 24, 2007, and be in effect for two years.

In addition, as recommended in the Affordable Housing Task Force report, the government will introduce a province-wide program to help landlords and tenants resolve disputes outside of court.

The Residential Tenancies Dispute Resolution Service, currently running as a successful pilot project in Edmonton, allows both landlords and tenants to bring forward disputes that are then heard by a tenancy dispute officer, who makes a binding decision on the matter. The program is less expensive and faster for landlords and tenants than going to court.

The program will be made permanent in Edmonton and the surrounding area as of June 1 this year. It will expand to Calgary in early 2008 and then to Fort McMurray and Grande Prairie before becoming a province-wide service by 2010.

In addition, funding for the Rent Supplement Program has increased by $14.3 million to $33 million. A new $7-million Homeless and Eviction Prevention Fund will be established to assist Albertans who may be at risk of losing accommodations due to rent increase and to assist newcomers to Alberta who may need temporary assistance until their first paycheque arrives. As the ministry responsible for income supports and emergency funding for Albertans with minimal resources, Employment, Immigration and Industry will administer the Homeless and Eviction Prevention Fund.

This funding is part of Premier Stelmach’s plan for managing growth pressures in the province. Other priorities for the government are to govern with integrity and transparency; provide safe and secure communities; improve Albertans’ quality of life; and to build a stronger Alberta. These priorities are addressing challenges today and building for the future.

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Attachment: Municipal funding for housing by population; and Government responds to Alberta Affordable Housing Task Force Report.

Media enquiries may be directed to:

Tracy Balash
Communications
Municipal Affairs and Housing
(780) 427 8862

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