A letter from the Town has been sent to the Minister of Seniors, Community, and Social Services, Jason Nixon, to request that the province consider funding for existing affordable homes and the maintenance they require.

In 2008, the Town of Drayton Valley received grant funding from the government to purchase a 20-unit affordable housing project. In 2009, six additional units were added to the inventory. 

Lola Strand, the Community Services Manager for the Town said in an email interview that all 26 units are currently full and have long waitlists.

“The Town of Drayton Valley sees affordability and access to housing for families and low-income individuals a crucial priority in our community,” says Strand.

Recently, Strand attended a roundtable discussion regarding homelessness with Nixon. One statement that Nixon said stood out for her.

“Minister Nixon says affordable housing was the solution for homelessness,” she says.

Strand says there is a slight surplus in the 2024 budget for the affordable housing units, but the costs for maintenance was over budget in 2023. She says part of this is due to the unpredictability of repairs and maintenance due to problems throughout the year, or when there is a tenant turnover.

Recent upgrades included replacing appliances and other repairs due to the age of the building. “Those repairs result in us being over budget in 2023. Final costs have not been calculated yet,” says Strand.

When the program was first introduced, the idea was that the units would pay for themselves. The Town would rent the units out at a low rate, and all of the income received would go toward looking after the costs of the buildings. 

However, that cost did not include the wages paid to the staff doing the repairs.

That’s why Strand asked town council to approve and sign a letter to the minister requesting that the province consider an additional fund for the Affordable Housing Partnership Program that is designed to help with costs of sustaining the homes.

“Despite inflation, we maintain affordable rental rates for the residents who are living and working in our community,” says Strand. “Our maintenance and repair costs have increased and our revenue has not.”

She says with the long waiting lists, the Town would be more than happy to receive a grant for more units and she anticipates applying for funds. However, that isn’t the main idea behind the letter.

“Our ask is that consideration be given to existing housing providers during 2024 budget deliberations and that funding for the improvement and maintenance of existing affordable housing inventory be made available to housing providers such as our affordable housing program,” she says.

Council agreed to Strand’s request with a unanimous vote.

By Amanda Jeffery, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Jan 04, 2024 at 15:13

This item reprinted with permission from   Free Press   Drayton Valley, Alberta

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