Social housing in Edmonton gets money for renovations, repairs

Almost 2,000 housing units in Edmonton are set to be renovated and repaired in the next three years, according to a funding announcement to the tune of $66 million from the city and federal government Friday.

“Studies show that the environment you grow up in will dictate a lot about your success in life, so we need to make sure that the homes are places they want to call home,” said Randy Boissonault, MP for Edmonton Centre.

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Almost 900 social housing units across 12 sites operated by Civida, the largest social housing provider in Edmonton, are in need of major renovation, according to the city’s capital budget update.

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Civida said seven of the sites, built in the 60s and 70s, are not in good condition, with one being in poor condition.

“Some of these repairs are very critical because some of these houses are 50 years old,” said Mayor Amarjeet Sohi. “If we don’t invest in the rehabilitation of these units, we will end up losing these units.”

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“These much-needed funds will ensure that we are able to continue our work in the revitalization of the 11 properties that Civida manages on behalf of the City of Edmonton,” said Gord Johnston, CEO of Civida.

The needed upgrades to Civida units will cost about $35 million and will consist of basic fixes like new paint, flooring, doors and plumbing fixtures; major replacements like electrical systems, furnace, hot water tanks and foundations; making the units more sustainable with attic insulation and replacing windows; and making them more accessible by adding things like ramps and visual indicators.

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The federal government requires at least 20 per cent of the units to meet the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s (CMHC) accessibility criteria and for there to be a 25 per cent reduction in energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions in the repaired units.

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Another $30 million will go to the city’s non-profit housing corporation, HomeEd, to fix up over 1,000 mixed income townhomes and apartments at 22 sites.

The federal government said the project is expected to enhance accessibility to almost 400 units and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

At least half of HomeEd units must be rented below 80 per cent of market rate for at least the next two decades.

The city said it wants to maintain its existing social housing stock as more Edmontonians are expected to need it in the next few years.

“By 2026, it is anticipated that 30,000 households in Edmonton will require monthly rental rates of less than $1,125, while 2,500 households will need rent levels of less than $375,” the city said.

“Another 6,900 households with slightly higher incomes may be able to afford slightly higher rents but are also far more likely to need multi-bedroom units, with more than half requiring four or more bedrooms.”

“One in four renters in Edmonton currently pay more than they can afford on housing,” said Mayor Amarjeet Sohi.

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The CEO of HomeEd said the renovations will help make sure affordable housing is available for future generations.

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“These funds will further fuel HomeEd’s efforts to enhance the energy efficiency and accessibility of our rental housing, allowing even more Edmontonians to live in a home they love and can afford,” Nick Lilley said.

More than $66 million will go towards renovating and repairing the units.

Almost $20 million is coming from CMHC, $14 million will come from municipal coffers and about $16 million from the province. The city said it’s hoping the remainder will be paid with another federal grant.

The repairs are required to be completed in the next three years.

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