+ RMA Rural Municipalities
of Alberta

Resolution 15-23S

Capital Funding Support for Housing Management Bodies

Date:
February 23, 2023
Expiry Date:
March 1, 2026
Active Status:
Active
Sponsors:
Birch Hills County
District:
4 - Northern
Year:
2023
Convention:
Spring
Category:
Industry and Resource Development
Status:
Accepted
Vote Results:
Carried
Preamble:

WHEREAS housing management bodies (HMBs) that provide supportive living facilities for seniors (lodges) are facing continual unanticipated increasing cost pressures including inflation, higher utility costs and interest rate increases; and

WHEREAS these increasing cost pressures are  impacting HMB operations, resulting in  deficits that require higher requisition requests as they try to balance capital repairs and  operating expenses; and

WHEREAS the overall outcome of the increased cost pressures is  reduced affordability for residents; and

WHEREAS the Government of Alberta has announced the Affordability Action Plan designed to provide assistance to seniors facing affordability crises; and

WHEREAS there is no assistance  available for supplies or capacity needed for capital maintenance of the actual lodges which are also negatively affected by the increased costs crisis; and

WHEREAS the  Government of Alberta has previously provided selected organizations with capital maintenance level funding, however, this  is no longer available to HMBs; and

WHEREAS HMBs are in immediate and long-term need of this support to sustain and improve Alberta’s seniors’ facilities;

Operative Clause:

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Rural Municipalities of Alberta advocate to the  Government of Alberta to increase funding to housing management bodies to alleviate the affordability crisis and provide funding for capital upkeep or replacement needed to sustain supportive living at senior lodges.

Member Background:

A recent presentation by the Grande Spirit Foundation Housing Management Body (HMB) highlighted the fact that all capital replacement funding is becoming the sole responsibility of the organization as lodges are not eligible for additional funding from provincial grants. HMBs can typically access support from the Canadia Mortgage and Housing Corportation  for new facilities and capital maintenance via borrowing along with some provincial funding to complete new projects, but not for existing facilities. HMBs throughout the province submit annual business plans to the Government of Alberta with capital renewal requests for existing and new facilities. These requests were funded through grants in the past, which assisted HMBs to prioritize and upgrade capital repairs as required. This grant funding for capital repairs either no longer exists or insufficient to  support aging lodge infrastructure. The result is the HMB either continues to raise rental rates to the maximum of residents’ income as per the Social Housing Regulation and further challenges  affordability for residents, or increases municipal requisitions which adds to the existing tax burden for municipal ratepayers. The Grande Spirit Foundation currently has over 1100 units with 1700 residents, and has approximately $90 million in capital budgets in planning to assist people in need of housing accommodation.

RMA Background:

12-22F: Grants-in-Lieu of Taxes for Public Housing Management Authorities

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Rural Municipalities of Alberta (RMA) advocate to the Government of Alberta to increase funding towards the Rent Assistance Benefit program; and

FURTHER BE IT RESOLVED that the RMA advocate to the Government of Alberta to reinstate grants in-lieu-of taxes for housing units operated by public housing management bodies; and

FURTHER BE IT RESOLVED that RMA advocate to the Government of Alberta to revise the Alberta Housing Act by replacing “may” with “shall” in section 27(1) and by deleting section 27(2).

Click here to view the full resolution.

5-21F: Seniors’ Foundation Requisitions

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Rural Municipalities of Alberta (RMA) request the Government of Alberta to engage municipalities, and membership associations such the Alberta Seniors and Community Housing Association in a review of the Alberta Housing Act to provide clarity on requisitioning for capital assets, associated interest costs and debenture payment obligations for member municipalities;

FURTHER BE IT RESOLVED that the RMA request the Government of Alberta to review the oversight of the Ministry of Seniors and Housing over housing management bodies (HMBs) to ensure that all HMBs are correctly and consistently requisitioning municipalities under the requirements of the Housing Act;

FURTHER BE IT RESOLVED that RMA request that the Government of Alberta provide enhanced training and education, including a training guide to municipal councils and HMBs on the Housing Act and the Management Body Operation and Administration Regulation to ensure they have a clear understanding of their financial powers, limitations and responsibilities, including related to requisitioning and reserve creation;

FURTHER BE IT RESOLVED that RMA request the Government of Alberta to amend the Housing Act to clearly state the ability of municipalities to approve or deny requests for capital projects.

Click here to view the full resolution.

Government Response:

Alberta Seniors Community and Social Services

With respect to funding support for Capital Maintenance and Renewal (CMR), Seniors, Community and Social Services (SCSS) provides capital grant funding for supported facilities and capital investment funding for facilities owned by the Alberta Social Housing Corporation (ASHC). Capital Plan 2023 includes $86 million in capital investment CMR and $8.1 million in grant funded CMR over three fiscal years.

Housing providers submit their CMR priorities to the ministry through their annual Business Plans submitted at the end of June. Housing providers should consider requisition as a first step for CMR projects in non-ASHC owned lodges. For ASHC-owned facilities, the department prioritizes CMR projects based on factors that include the life of the asset and the health and safety of tenants and ensuring the building’s condition is in alignment with all CMR projects across the Government of Alberta.

In cases where local resources are not available to deal with locally-owned facilities, housing providers should reach out to ministry staff to explore options for essential CMR work. Although grant funding is limited, it is available to support priority CMR projects. Requests for grantfunded CMR projects for locally-owned facilities are similarly prioritized for consideration.

The department will also be undertaking a review of the Seniors Lodge Program in alignment with strategic government direction. The 2023/2024 review objectives ensure that the program increases seniors’ housing in line with population growth and demand, providing the program with the necessary flexibility and increasing the long-term financial sustainability of lodges while enabling them to serve as community hubs in rural areas.

Development:

RMA appreciated the response from Alberta Seniors, Community and Social Services (SCSS) acknowledging the current budget for CMR projects (Capital Plan 2023 includes $86 million in capital investment CMR and $8.1 million in grant funded CMR over three fiscal years). However, the resolution indicates that current provincial grant amounts are insufficient to support adequate capital investment and maintenance in seniors facilities and an improved approach is needed. RMA will follow up with SCSS to better understand how they allocate grant funding and determine an overall available grant funding amount, and will advocate for increases moving forward. This resolution is assigned a status of Intent Not Met.

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