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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.

Wood Buffalo Housing receives grant to furnish accommodations

July 20, 2020 – Wood Buffalo Housing learned last month that they are the successful recipient of a grant provided by the Alberta Real Estate Foundation to create affordable furnished accommodations for the people of the Wood Buffalo Region. Funding from this initiative will provide 30 single and multi-family units in one of Alberta’s most progressive communities, meeting immediate housing needs during these challenging times. In the long-term, these units will also provide bridge accommodations as people look to establish longer-term real estate options.

Representatives from AREF contacted WBH following the flood to see if there was some way their organization could help the people of this community.

“We were completely honest with them,” says Henry Hunter, President and CEO of WBH. “Based on the overwhelming number of calls we were receiving at that time, people were in need of affordable furnished accommodations and we only had a handful to provide.”

WBH saw a similar situation after the wildfire in 2016.

“Suddenly we had an entire group of people who are without their homes, their belongings and their basic furnishings, and they needed to find somewhere that they could stay until they had access again,” says Hunter.

AREF told WBH they could apply for a grant with their organization. So they completed the application and submitted it that week. They received notice in late June that their application was approved.

“We were of course ecstatic,” says Hunter. “Funding from this grant means we will have increased capacity to accommodate more people in times of emergency. Even outside of these natural disaster-type scenarios, we often receive requests from people seeking affordable furnished accommodations, whether it’s someone travelling from one of our region’s rural communities for an extended period of time for medical or other reasons, or someone new to the community that needs an affordable and safe place to lay their head at night.”

“Our Board was unanimous in its desire to help the people of Wood Buffalo,” says Doug Leighton, Chair of the Alberta Real Estate Foundation. “We are all aware of the extraordinary chain of events that has hurt this community and our Board was eager to fund an initiative that would have a significant and immediate impact. While the Foundation does not normally fund capital projects, the Board agreed that the creation of furnished emergency accommodations will help meet immediate housing needs and enhance affordable housing options in Wood Buffalo.”

Work to furnish the units will be conducted in the coming months, and the units will be ready for applicants as they are completed. If you are in need of affordable furnished accommodations or have been affected by the recent flooding in Wood Buffalo, please contact WBH at 780-799-4050 or info@wbhousing.ca.

About Wood Buffalo Housing (WBH): Founded in 2001, WBH is the lead non-profit housing agency in our region. We collaborate with our many stakeholders, including tenants, community groups, non-profits, industry and government to pursue safe and sustainable housing solutions for all of the people of our community. Since 2001, we’ve helped more than 10,000 people – those new to our community and those making a new start – find the right apartment, the right townhouse, and the right way to achieve home ownership. WBH also facilitates the provision of funding for the Rent Supplement Program and Community Housing on behalf of the Province.

Media contact info:
Wood Buffalo Housing:
Christina MacKay
Manager, Communications and Marketing
Phone: 780-714-8139
E-mail: christina@wbhousing.ca

HOMEOWNERSHIP IS STILL THE DREAM – But moderate-income Calgarians might not realize they can afford it.

Who says people are moving away from homeownership? In fact, the dream is stronger than ever for moderate-income Calgarians. 81% of this group want to own a home either now or in the next few years.

New research released today examines attitudes toward homeownership and the assumed barriers to achieving it for moderate-income Calgarians. This research was referenced at yesterday’s CREB Forecast and is the collaboration between Attainable Homes Calgary, the Alberta Real Estate Foundation and the Calgary Real Estate Board.

When asked, “Why homeownership?” moderate-income Calgarians selected their top three reasons: housing stability – sense of permanence; personal investment – paying themselves instead of a landlord; cost certainty – knowing exact monthly costs without unexpected rental increases.

So, if moderate-income Calgarians (who do not currently own a home) want to buy one, why aren’t they? Not shockingly, the reasons are financially based: they don’t think they can afford the costs of homeownership; they can’t save a down payment; and they believe prices are too high.

When comparing renting to owning, most renters primarily value the freedom of renting, except for single-parent rental households.
Over one-third of respondents who think they could qualify for a mortgage indicated they could afford between $1,250 and $1,500 per month in mortgage and property taxes which translates to home prices between $245,000 and $310,000.

In terms of housing supply priced below $300,000, moderate-income Calgarians may not know there are 2,161 resale and 715 new construction homes all currently available for purchase. This hints to a potential disconnect between renters’ price perceptions and actual list prices.

Recent media reports and social media communication across the country suggest a shift away from the desire of Canadians to own a home. This newly released research counters this assumption; the dream remains firmly in place for those earning a moderate-income in Calgary.

An infographic summarizing highlights of the research can be found here.

Media Contacts:

Jennifer McCarron
Director of Marketing & Communications
Attainable Homes Calgary
(o) 403.265.9934 (m) 403-389-1512
Jen.mccarron@attainyourhome.com

Ann-Marie Lurie
Chief Economist
CREB
403.781.1372
ann-marie.lurie@creb.ca

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.

Finding New Ways To Address An Old Issue

A lack of affordable housing in Calgary is, sadly, nothing new. But with the help of a grant from AREF, Highbanks is looking to work with the real estate industry to find fresh, innovative ways to address this ongoing issue for young single women and their small children.

Highbanks helps a handful of families in Calgary by providing subsidized, safe and affordable places for them to live along with a number of other supports. “We serve young moms and their children who are homeless, at risk of being homeless or leaving profoundly traumatic situations,” says Krista Flint, the executive director at Highbanks. “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.”

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 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 serve 11 families. 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.”

With a $21,000 grant from AREF, Highbanks will connect with experts and hire consultants to look at best practices for innovative affordable housing. They will build a strategy to work with landlords, property owners, builders and developers to find more housing for young families while also filling vacancies in the rental market.

“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 Flint. “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.”

Habitat for Humanity celebrates completion of six new affordable homes in Bowness

NEWS RELEASE – Habitat for Humanity recently celebrated the completion of six new homes in Bowness that will provide affordable home ownership opportunities to six Calgary families.

“At Habitat, we know how difficult it is for families to break into the housing market,” said Gerrad Oishi, Habitat for Humanity Southern Alberta President and CEO. “That’s why we’re committed to working with our community to provide affordable home ownership opportunities for families. We’re so thankful for every sponsor, donor, community partner and volunteer who has stepped up to make affordable home ownership opportunities possible for these six families in Bowness.”

Lori Sigurdson, Minister of Seniors and Housing, was in attendance to bring greetings on behalf of the Government of Alberta, which has been a significant supporter of these homes in Bowness. Deborah Drever, MLA Calgary-Bow was also in attendance.

“That’s the cool thing about Habitat, is that it’s about community – everybody working together to create game-changing opportunities for these families,” said Sigurdson. “Our government is so proud to partner with Habitat for Humanity; we have a shared goal of creating more affordable housing in our province. I’m very proud to work with you and appreciate everything Habitat is doing.”

Every Habitat home is the result of community support. This project has been aided by financial contributions from numerous sponsors, donors and community partners, including the Government of Alberta, the CREB® Charitable Foundation, the Alberta Real Estate Foundation (AREF) and Hockey Helps the Homeless.

“It is humbling for the foundation to have been a part of this incredible build,” says Aneve MacKay-Lyons, CREB® Charitable Foundation manager. “Our Realtor members are at the forefront of everything we do and it is great to see their hands-on volunteer hours and our donation make a measurable difference to our community and working families.

The CREB® Charitable Foundation donated $50,000 toward these Bowness builds and the Alberta Real Estate Foundation (AREF) provided a $50,000 matching grant. This is the second collaborative build these three organizations have worked on together.

“We are proud to join forces with the CREB® Charitable Foundation on such a worthwhile project and support the wonderful work of Habitat for Humanity,” said Charlie Ponde, AREF chair. “Congratulations to the families on your new home and all of the memories that it will soon house.”

In addition to financial support, many tradespeople, contractors and suppliers stepped forward to offer donations of building materials and expert labour, along with more than 13,000 volunteer hours.

Susan, mother to Judah and Hope, is a future Habitat homeowner in Bowness. For her family, home ownership brings hope to their lives, knowing that anything is possible.

“My children can have stability in their lives and will have a strong start on their journey towards successful living,” Susan said. “I am excited to dream new dreams with my children – to develop new skills, meet new people and to help and serve others in the same way.”

Each Habitat homeowner has contributed 500 volunteer hours as part of their partnership, and will purchase their homes at Fair Market Value through Habitat’s affordable mortgage, which means no down payment and no interest. Mortgage payments will be geared toward each family’s’ income and will never exceed 30 per cent of their total household income. This gives parents financial flexibility and the ability to build long-term stability for their children.

These six homes in Bowness are one of five Habitat developments in this community. Future developments include a four-plex, scheduled for completion in January 2018, and three five-plexes, scheduled for completion by January 2019.

New U of L study finds water issues a major concern of housing developers in the Calgary region

The final report of a study investigating challenges and solutions in acquiring water for housing development in the Calgary provides some insights into this critical issue.

Principal investigator, Dr. Lorraine Nicol of the University of Lethbridge issued the final report after analysing the findings from interviews with 15 major developers working in Rocky View County, M.D. Foothills and/or Okotoks. Challenges in acquiring water have housing developers in the Calgary region worried about the effects on their industry and real estate, on home buyers and the economy in general.

The study found:

  • 100% of developers interviewed believe there are challenges in acquiring licensed water allocations for housing development in the three municipalities under study;
  • 73% stated acquiring a licensed water allocation is the ‘primary issue’ for developers;
  • 60% of interviewees believe water management in the region is political, to the detriment of the housing industry;
  • another 53% believe the source of the problem also relates to government processes;
  • 87% of developers believe water challenges are having a negative effect on the industry, either now or in the future;
  • two-thirds of developers say the cost of acquiring water licenses increases the price of homes;
  • on average, approximately 200 homes sold yearly in the three municipalities under study comprised the resale of new homes. A 10% decline in houses constructed, by reducing the stock of homes, could translate in a decline of 20 houses hold; a 20% decline in new home construction could translate in a decline of 40 homes sold;

All developers believe a solution lies in working together as a region but there was no clear consensus on what type of regional model will work.

For more information about this study, visit the University of Lethbridge’s website here or Alberta WaterPortal’s Blog here.

AREF supports Habitat for Humanity Home at Neufeld Landing

On December 17th, nine families received keys to their Habitat for Humanity Home at Neufeld Landing, the largest Habitat Build in Canadian history.

For the last 25 years, the Foundation has strived to support initiatives that make a difference in the industry and in the lives of Albertans. As such, we are proud to be a partner on the Habitat for Humanity Home at Neufeld Landing and support the vital work of Habitat for Humanity Edmonton.

When presenting at the dedication ceremony, Chair Elect Charlie Ponde said, “The Alberta Real Estate Foundation would like to thank the REALTORS Community Foundation for funding this project and partnering with us on this build. This is the fourth partnership build we have been involved in with the REALTORS Community Foundation and we look forward to investing in future meaningful projects with them.”

Congratulations to the nine families on their new home and all of the memories that it will soon house.

For a short video of the Neufeld Landing Home Dedication Ceremony please see below: