Nenshi says Calgary won't be a slumlord after provincially-owned housing units shut down - 660 NEWS
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Nenshi says Calgary won't be a slumlord after provincially-owned housing units shut down

(Courtesy: City of Calgary)

After 245 provincially-owned housing units had to be shut down in Calgary in 2017, Mayor Naheed Nenshi said the problem has to end in 2018.

“We’re not going to be a slumlord, they don’t want to be a slumlord,” Nenshi said of the province. “We have to make sure that people have safe, decent places to live.

“The good news is the province is very receptive to this.”

The NDP recently announced $4.5 million in funding to bring units that are owned by the province but operated by the City, up to modern health and safety standards.

But that pales in comparison to what the Calgary Housing Company – a City subsidiary – said is needed to repair all provincial units, which will be tens of millions.

But Minister of Seniors and Housing Lori Sigurdson said the $4.5 million is more than just a stop-gap measure.

“For us to be able to come up with $4.5 million in-year, I think that that shows pretty clearly our commitment to making a difference,” she said. “It’s no question we have inherited a situation that has been one of neglect.”

Ward 7 Councillor Druh Farrell said after years of that neglect, the units shutting down has been a long time coming as funding has flat-lined while costs have increased.

“It’s really gotten to the point where we need a different model,” she said. “We can band-aid these units in the short-term to keep them open or re-open them, but what we need is a long-term funding agreement, so that we can fix up these buildings.”

Sigurdson said the Provincial Affordable Housing Strategy announced this summer, does include different models, including mixed-income.

As for what increased requests in CHC funding will be in 2018, the minister says she’s heard a variety of figures.

“We’re going to be meeting with them in the new year and certainly we’ll sit down at the table and see what we can do together,” she said.

As for whether he believes a solution is possible, Nenshi is blunt.

“We’ve got no choice, we’re actually at the point where we cannot delay this anymore and significant money has to be put in now,” he said. “These are people who are very vulnerable and they don’t deserve to live in places that are not safe or healthy.”