Resiliency through Industry Partnerships

2017-2018 Annual Report Highlight

Highbanks provides subsidized, safe and affordable housing along with some other supports for 11 young families in Calgary. With funding from AREF, Highbanks is hiring real estate consultants to explore and develop creative partnerships with landlords, property owners, builders and developers. The aim is to work together to come up with creative ways to provide affordable housing for young single mothers, fill vacancies in market rental housing and build resiliency in the community.

“We are really excited to start thinking about how we might address the huge need. The money from AREF allows us to think in non-traditional ways about how we might be able to expand our reach,” says Krista Flint, the executive director at Highbanks. “We are really keen to break down the paradigm of ‘We need a capital campaign and we need to build something else,’ because there are so many wildly innovative models for spaces for social good and we’re really excited to lead that thinking in our sector.”

Highbanks helps young mothers and their children who are homeless, at risk of being homeless or leaving profoundly traumatic situations. “We provide a housing first model with a focus on education and everything we do is sensitive to the deep trauma most of our girls have experienced,” she says. The mothers, many of whom haven’t finished high school, are required to go to school full time. Over the last 15 years, many of the young women that Highbanks has helped have gone on to get post-secondary diplomas or degrees.

Highbanks puts on community events and provides workshops and classes on parenting, coping and stress strategies, financial literacy, nutrition and life skills. A registered social worker refers women to other agencies and supports. It costs about $35,000 a year to help each family— an investment which Highbanks estimates saves taxpayers about $650,000 in publically-funded social services costs.

“We work very closely with organizations concerned with homelessness in Calgary. At any given time, we have about 30 young moms on our waiting list seeking help,” Flint says. “About 97 per cent of the young women who leave us go on to pay market rent and in some wonderful cases, own their own home.

Read the Alberta Real Estate Foundation’s full 2017-2018 Annual Report.

Understanding Behavioural Environmental Design Contributors of High Radon Exposure to Protect Canadian Health

2017-2018 Annual Report Highlight

Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer— after smoking— and the invisible, odorless, radioactive gas may be lurking in your home. AREF is supporting Evict Radon, an awareness campaign that encourages homeowners across the province to test their houses for radon gas while also providing data for researchers who are looking for a solution.

“We want to educate people about the effects of radon gas and encourage as many Albertans as possible to test their homes while also gathering data for medical research,” says Dr. Aaron Goodarzi, an assistant professor at the Cumming School of Medicine at the University of Calgary and lead of the Western Canadian Prairie Radon Study.

Radon occurs naturally when radium in the soil and rock breaks down. Goodarzi and his team have detailed radon gas analysis from more than 11,000 homes across Alberta and Saskatchewan. They found a staggering one in six houses contain hazardous levels of radon.

“We now have radon readings from all across Alberta and other parts of the prairies,” says Goodarzi. “We know that homes with higher square footage have higher radon. However, there are still several unknown home metrics that are contributing to high radon.” They’re trying to determine the “X factor” about why newer houses have higher radon than older houses.

The researchers are aiming to test more homes in Edmonton, Lethbridge, Red Deer and Medicine Hat and rural parts of Alberta. The best time to test for radon is during the winter. “That’s when we spend more time inside, and due to the cold, our homes are sealed up tight — the perfect conditions for radon exposure,” says Goodarzi.

People order a $60 Evict Radon test kit at evictradon.ca. They put the device in the lowest level of their home where they spend more than four hours a day and leave it there for at least 90 days. They register their device online, enter the start and end dates and fill out a short home metric survey. After the 90 days are up, the homeowner sends their device to the lab for analysis. They’ll get their radon level within a few weeks.

Radon occurs in areas all across the country. It’s the primary cause of lung cancer diagnosis in 10,000 to 40,000 Canadians every decade. And every day, an Albertan is diagnosed with radon-induced lung cancer despite never having used tobacco.

Read the Alberta Real Estate Foundation’s full 2017-2018 Annual Report.

New look of Pembina’s New Energy Economy Map

It’s been over a year since the New Energy Economy project got its start, premiering at the 2017 Alberta Climate Summit. The goal was to share stories of Albertans taking hold of the energy evolution well underway in the province, and in less than a year it has made amazing progress.

Today, the New Energy Economy Map has over 200 projects, each having broken ground after 2012. They have published more than 20 stories and profiles about these projects and the people who make them happen — touching on renewable energy, efficiency, education, transportation, clean technologies and more. The map is always growing, with new stories published every week.

Affordable homes is a dream come true for two Albertan families

Owning a home is so much than acquiring an appreciating asset – it’s a source of pride and new tie to the community. You could see the emotion on the faces of all four families that benefited from new Habitat for Humanity homes in Strathcona County. On a sunny July 27th, four families were handed keys that started new chapters in their lives. Two of the four homes were supported by the Alberta Real Estate Foundation, the REALTORS® Community Foundation and the Government of Alberta. The County of Strathcona also played a key role with significant contributions to all the homes.

Jay Freeman, Chair of the Alberta Real Estate Foundation (AREF), said of all the worthwhile projects that the Foundation supports, Habitat for Humanity is one of his favourites. At the ribbon-cutting ceremony he said, “With these projects we can see, in a very concrete way, how our small contribution is benefiting.” The families moving into the new homes couldn’t agree more. Both parents and children spoke about how owning a home will make a difference to them and their families. One of the new owners named Clodia said, “Owing a house means stability and security, but also it means I can be a good role model for my daughter.”

 

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Habitat for Humanity believes in giving people a hand up, not a hand out. Habitat Homes are built by volunteers and donors and sold to qualified families. Those who are approved to receive a home must agree to work 500 hours at the build site in place of a down payment. Habitat holds the mortgage interest-free and amortizes it over as many years as necessary to ensure the families do not pay over 25 percent of their income for housing.

Affordable housing is one of the Foundation’s areas of interest for projects. It often partners with Real Estate Boards across the province, such as the REALTORS® Association of Edmonton, to match their donation and double the impact in communities across Alberta. Habitat for Humanity is a deserving partner as it serves families that are low to moderate income and offers them an innovative financing option. The Alberta Real Estate Foundation is proud of its contribution to this great event and join with others in welcoming these four families home.