ACCA and ARDN Partner on Co-operative Housing Initiative

By Alberta Co-operative and Community Association (ACCA) 

Co-op housing is an essential piece of the housing continuum in Alberta and Canada. However, as government subsidies continue to dwindle and current co-op assets face increasing maintenance costs, a number of units are threatened.

ACCA is proud to be partnering with the Alberta Rural Development Network (ARDN) and the Alberta Real Estate Foundation (AREF) on a research initiative to develop a better understanding of the current successes and challenges in co-op housing. This project will assess the financial needs of current co-ops, research solutions, and put forward recommendations for new co-op housing models such as the Limited Equity Housing Co-Ops (LEHCs), land trusts, and other models.

There are three main activities as part of this project:

  • Consult with current co-op members, real estate professionals, and industry stakeholders
  • Research and review applicable models and feasibility studies
  • Dissemination of findings through education and recommendations

When the project is complete, the team expects the following outcomes:

  • Recommendations to help bolster the co-op housing supply in Alberta
  • Define potential housing employment opportunities to help develop housing co-ops
  • Provide Alberta co-ops with the tools and resources to help navigate their rental/governance models
  • Introduce new housing models to developers and communities.

Would you like to help with the research?

To help develop a better understanding of the current successes and challenges in co-op house, we are inviting existing co-op housing members or anyone interested in the research to complete the Co-op Stakeholder Engagement Contact Form.

 

Alberta Real Estate Foundation Increases Funding to Help Provincial Recovery

The Alberta Real Estate Foundation (AREF) has increased its granting program to better support organizations and projects that are working to strengthen Alberta’s communities, the real estate industry, and the province as a whole.

Alberta has suffered significant economic and public health effects due to COVID-19. AREF’s Board of Governors voted to double the 2020 granting program to $4M to bolster support as the province moves to recover. This increase will, in part, support AREF’s creation of a major grants category to mark the Foundation’s 30th anniversary in 2021.

AREF works with industry stakeholders to support projects across Alberta that improve civil society, help build vibrant and healthy communities, and develop land where people want to live. AREF distributes grants to a wide variety of projects.

“The projects we fund have varying scope and time horizons,” says Doug Leighton, Chair of the Board of Governors. “It’s important that we get that balance right. The goal is to maximize utility for our stakeholders, strengthen the province, and always keep in mind that real estate is the medium that connects everything we do.”

In March, as the COVID-19 lockdown began, AREF’s Board recognized that the province’s real estate industry required additional short-term support, and in response, the Board more than doubled the Sponsorship and Small Grants budget to $250,000 to ensure the Foundation responded nimbly to the needs of its stakeholders.

AREF has since collaborated with its valued industry partners and stakeholders—including Real Estate Boards, the Alberta Mortgage Brokers Association, and the Building Owners and Managers Association—to discuss how to use sponsorship funding to support them and help strengthen their ability to serve their members in these extraordinary circumstances.

Last year, AREF’s Board of Governors approved an increase to its 2020 grant budget from $1.5M to $2M to help counter the effects of the province’s declining economy. And despite AREF’s revenue being negatively impacted by historically low-interest rates and decreased real estate transactions, in June the Board approved a revised budget allowing for an additional increase to the grants program up to $4M.

In celebration of its 30th Anniversary, AREF will introduce a major grants category for 2021. Projects could include social housing projects, research on housing developments for a post-pandemic world, or providing education on condo living. “We know Albertans have great, big ideas,” says Leighton. “We want to help fund those ideas and turn them into reality.”

AREF invests in real estate policy, research, practices, and education that strengthen Alberta’s communities. To find out more about eligibility and applying for funding from the Foundation, please visit  Get Funding and stay tuned for details around AREF’s 30th Anniversary Major Grants Category.

The Story of Inclusio – Accessible Housing (Calgary)

Submitted by Accessible Housing

Accessible Housing is a non-profit organisation and registered charity, which helps open doors to homes that are both accessible and affordable for people with limited mobility, a growing population with unmet needs in the province of Alberta. Recognising a need in the community for increased mobility-restricted and cost-effective housing, the Accessible Housing Society undertook the development a 45-suite home known as Inclusio.

Inclusio is located in the community of Capitol Hill in Calgary, Alberta. It is the first building of its kind designed to serve those with limited mobility not only in Calgary, but also within the province of Alberta. Inclusio features 45 studio suites, shared common living spaces and laundry rooms available on each floor, a central dining room (designed to offer three meals per day, seven days per week), and wellness room (complete with a therapeutic tub). Residents also have access to an enclosed parking garage (with parking stalls wide enough to accommodate specialised vehicles), as well as on-site administration, maintenance and housekeeping services.

Through the initial design, development and operation of Inclusio, Accessible Housing gained a great deal of knowledge about not only construction design and development but also additionally, how the services provided integrate in the most useful way for residents within the building design. Through a generous grant provided by the Alberta Real Estate Foundation, Accessible Housing has been able to gather this learned information and share the story of Inclusio with many stakeholders. 

Further understanding of the needs that less than 3% of affordable housing units in Calgary are accessible; 58% of adults with disabilities in Calgary have incomes under $30,000 per year provides opportunity to reach out to government and other agency stakeholders to create plans for strategy and collaboration to fill a greater and increasing need.

 

The benefits realised through the building of Inclusio have been significant. Not only for residents but family members as well as staff working with residents each day.

While supportive living is not a new concept in the realm of housing the uniqueness of Inclusio is, as it was purpose built to support residents with limited mobility.

The success of Inclusio can be summed up best by comments shared from residents:

  • “Allows us to go out into the community and feel safe and comfortable”
  • “The supports we received offer us the ability to contribute to society (working/volunteering) and to offer what you can back”
  • “Has given me a sense of hope, purpose and fulfillment”
  • “Has helped reduce the feelings of uncertainty you feel when disabled”
  • “My mom sleeps at night now not being worried to get a call that I have fallen and need help”
  • “Accessible is not in the business of building places, they are in the business of saving lives”
  • “I have so much I want to do and I feel like I can do it now!”
  • “I was very isolated and depressed, now I have started to live”
  • “My mom took a vacation for the first time in 10 years”

 

The ability for Accessible Housing to tell the story of Inclusio and share learnings will continue long into the future thanks again to the Alberta Real Estate Foundation (AREF). Together, we are creating opportunity that empowers people, and emphasises the importance of a more accessible Alberta.

To learn more about the important work Accessible Housing is doing visit our website www.accessiblehousing.ca.

University of Alberta Enhances Research on Urban Expansion

“Urban Alberta is spilling into rural,” says Brent Swallow, an environment and development economist. Too often, decisions about land designation are driven by short-term goals, he says. But there are long-term costs to development and to the “ecosystem services” that rural land provides for cities, such as clean air and water.

Balancing urban expansion with rural conservation is challenging and heavily influenced by people’s attitudes and beliefs. For example, do urbanites in Alberta want to preserve the rural land around their cities? Do they want more locally grown produce at the farmers markets? Are they willing to pay extra to keep the city outskirts green?

The Alberta Real Estate Foundation wants to find answers to these questions to help the real estate industry better understand issues around land stewardship. The foundation’s $50,000 donation will make it possible for Swallow and his research team in the Faculty of Agricultural, Life & Environmental Sciences to conduct a province wide survey of urban attitudes toward fragmentation, conversion and conservation of agricultural land.

Fall 2014 Community Investment Recipients

The Board of Governors of the Alberta Real Estate Foundation approved $203,300 in community investment projects at their recent meeting on October 3rd, 2014.

Of the 6 projects funded in June we are delighted to include:

$20,000 to the Western Sky Land Trust for their Bow & Beyond Initiative

$30,000 to the University of Calgary School of Public Policy for the Urban Policy Program

$25,000 to the Land Stewardship Centre for the project titled “Operation and Maintenance of Private Wastewater Systems Workshop

$60,300 to the Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta for the Residential Tenancies Legal Information Program in 2016-2017

$28,000 to the Edmonton Social Planning Council for development of Neighbourhood Profiles

The Governors also approved a $40,000 community and industry sponsorship fund for the Foundation to use in the 2015 year.

The Alberta Real Estate Foundation supports initiatives that enhance the Real Estate Industry and benefit the communities of Alberta. The Foundation was set up in 1991 under the Alberta Real Estate Act. Since then, it has awarded over 15.5 million dollars in community and industry grants to over 493 projects across Alberta.

ANNOUNCING SUMMER 2012 COMMUNITY INVESTMENT RECIPIENTS

The Board of Governors of the Alberta Real Estate Foundation recently approved $203,000 in community investment projects at their recent meeting on June 22nd, 2012.

 Notable projects approved for funding include:

– $50,000 to the ALCES group (www.alces.ca) and Alberta Tomorrow to further develop their mapping tools and school outreach program for their land simulator.

– $25,000 to Athabasca Watershed Council (www.acw-wpac.ca) for an outreach campaign to educated residents on the results of the watershed report and its impact for Albertans in the area.

– $20,000 to Calgary Chamber of Voluntary Organizations (CCVO) (www.calgarycvo.org) for a survey in non-profit leadership in Calgary and Area.

– $15,000 to Doors Open Calgary Society (DOCA) (www.doorsopenyyc.org) for a Calgary-wide public celebration to showcase the heritage, architectural and socially significant buildings in the city.

– $30,000 to Olds College (www.oldscollege.ca) toward the construction of a research facility on the management and treatment of wetland areas in Alberta.

– $38,000 to the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT) (www.nait.ca) for a solar array applied research project.

– $25,000 to The Natural Step (www.thenaturalstep.org) to facilitate the Sustainability Transition Lab in Edmonton: a dialogue in sustainability. 

Jay Freeman, the Chair of the Alberta Real Estate Foundation, was extremely pleased with the breadth and diversity of the grants supported this round. He said, “There is a clear focus on land stewardship issues from large organizations and small. We are also pleased to support Alberta Tomorrow to build upon work that we have supported in the past making their tools accessible to more communities across Alberta. Projects like Doors Open are novel and proven, as they have achieved success in other Canadian cities. We look forward to their success in Calgary.”

Cynthia Klaasen is DOCA’s President. She says, “Thanks to the support, Doors Open Calgary Society will allow Calgarians to experience and appreciate some of the unique architectural and historical sites featured in this year’s Doors Open YYC event. The success of this event will help turn it into something Calgarians can enjoy year after year.”

Colin Baril from The Natural Step is excited to move forward with their Sustainability Transition Lab project. “Efforts to engage current and emerging community leaders to envision a sustainable and prosperous Edmonton will be the catalyst for a series of tangible projects to help Edmonton meaningfully address key challenges facing the city.”

Dr. Glenn Feltham, NAIT president and CEO says, “We deeply appreciate the Alberta Real Estate Foundation’s support of this very important initiative. We are committed to alternative energy research and finding solutions that will improve the quality of life of all Albertans.” The Alberta Real Estate Foundation is proud to be part of such important work.

The Alberta Real Estate Foundation supports initiatives that enhance the Real Estate Industry and benefit the communities of Alberta. The Foundation was set up in 1991 under the Alberta Real Estate Act. Since then, it has awarded over 14.1 million dollars in community and industry grants to over 452 projects across Alberta.