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October 26 2020

Calgary Chamber supports COVID-19 Community Affordable Housing Advocacy Plan

Overview

Together with organizations across the city, the Chamber was pleased to provide our support for the City of Calgary's COVID-19 Community Affordable Housing Advocacy Plan.

The plan will require collaboration from all levels of government, and proposes two streams of action to tackle affordable housing in Calgary.

  1. Quickly create homes for 600 Calgarians experiencing or at risk of homelessness, which requires $58.7 million in funding between the province and the federal government.
  2. Over three years, see the development of 4,800 new homes at a cost of $537 million. City Council's Intergovernmental Affairs Committee has reviewed this plan, endorsed it, and agreed that it should be forwarded to both the federal and provincial governments.

Below is our formal letter of support for this plan.

Letter of Support

October 26, 2020

Dear Members of Council:

Now, more than ever, we need to focus on how to best position our city for future success by managing the COVID-19 pandemic and our long-term economic recovery. We have always advocated for moving forward with conviction and resolve towards building vibrant communities and a vibrant city.

To that end, we are pleased to provide our support for Calgary’s COVID-19 Community Affordable Housing Advocacy Plan.

We know that infrastructure investment is a tried and true lever that governments can pull in an economic recession. The COVID-19 Community Affordable Housing Advocacy Plan creates an action plan for that investment by stimulating Calgary’s economy through creating construction jobs and repurposing existing buildings. From this perspective, affordable housing investment presents an opportunity for recovery for the construction, development, and tourism sectors. According to the plan, an immediate residential construction investment of $450 million in 22 non-profit affordable housing construction projects will create 2,800 jobs. Writing to Premier Jason Kenney, Mayor Nenshi advised:

“[t]he overall economic activity generated in the region would be $765M, and the value-added/GDP is $355M. In addition to this, ending homelessness saves public systems $70K to $135K per person, per year. In Calgary, by housing 600+ individuals that are currently homeless the public system would see savings between $42M - $81M per year.”

It’s clear that this plan would create jobs, allow for cost savings for government, and foster considerable economy activity; each of these results is a positive step forward as we look to get Calgarians back to work and recover.

Given this, this plan needs to be put in motion, and we urge the provincial government to fund the operating costs associated with the acquisition of the first 600 units.

At the Chamber, we believe that vibrant communities lead to vibrant businesses. For us, this means social issues cannot be separated from business and economic issues, and that our community needs both strong social, and economic, policies. The COVID-19 pandemic has made this even clearer by exposing existing and fundamental vulnerabilities in our social, political, and economic systems.

Calgary’s COVID-19 Community Affordable Housing Advocacy Plan supports our economy and our community, and aims to grow our economy for all of us.

Yours sincerely,

Murray Sigler

Interim CEO

Calgary Chamber of Commerce