WHEREAS the current application process for the Affordable Housing Partnership Program requires municipalities to commit significant work and financial resources to unique projects without the assurance of receiving grants; and
WHEREAS municipalities and organizations that are partially funded by municipal requisitions (such as housing management bodies) have the responsibility to ensure the prudent use of funds derived from taxation from municipal ratepayers; and
WHEREAS Alberta’s expansive geography presents distinct rural challenges, especially for seniors wishing to age within their communities where family often plays a pivotal caregiving role; and
WHEREAS the unpredictable nature of the application process results in wasted time, resources, and financial commitments, along with frustrated community expectations when grants are not received; and
WHEREAS the current process may hinder municipalities’ capability to plan and execute large capital purchases effectively;
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Rural Municipalities of Alberta (RMA) advocate to the Government of Alberta (GOA) to review the application process for the Affordable Housing Partnership Program and any future affordable housing funding programs to minimize financial commitments that municipal applicants are required to make to a project before the grant funding is confirmed; and
FURTHER BE IT RESOLVED that the RMA advocate to the GOA to use a data-driven allocation model to determine funding priorities, incorporating a distinct rural-focused stream within this system; and
FURTHER BE IT RESOLVED that the RMA advocate to the GOA to create scalable, replicable modular designs for affordable housing projects that could be utilized by housing management bodies for approved projects.
In Alberta, municipalities are at the forefront of addressing housing needs, emphasizing the creation of unified communities through various housing initiatives. This includes housing needs for all age groups and often involves collaboration with entities like housing management bodies. Given their central role in delivering housing projects, it is pertinent to acknowledge their partial funding through municipal requisitions, directly derived from municipal taxation.
The Affordable Housing Partnership Program, in its current form, is a “double-edged sword.” While it offers potential avenues for housing solutions, the associated unpredictability of the grant system is a pressing concern. Municipalities often find themselves in a precarious position, forced to earmark resources and navigate bureaucratic complexities, all while operating in a cloud of funding uncertainty.
Projects demand considerable resources and financial investments upfront, without any guarantee of obtaining critical provincial or federal grants. Housing management boards have historically spent funds on repeated business cases and needs assessments that utilize publicly available data. Because the application process requires a detailed budget to be submitted, it requires a housing body to hire numerous professional service consultants including project management, construction management and architectural firms to develop project design and the corresponding budget. The preference of “construction ready” applications further exacerbates the issue.
This approach is fiscally strenuous, forcing municipalities to allocate substantial resources without the certainty of external funding. The uncertainty does not just strain budgets; it also places a cloud over long-term strategic planning for community development.
Another dimension to this challenge is community dynamics. When housing projects are publicized or initiated, they set high community expectations. Any subsequent delay or cancellation of these initiatives due to funding shortfalls can lead to significant community disappointment. The result of this causes an erosion of trust in municipal endeavors, impacting community morale and perception.
The repercussions are often subtly but significantly felt by municipal ratepayers. Their tax contributions form the backbone of these projects, and uncertainties in project fruition place their contributions in a precarious position. For many ratepayers, the local housing projects are more than just infrastructure; they represent hopes for community growth, stability, and prosperity.
A streamlined and predictable grant application process for housing projects in Alberta is paramount. This will not only ensure efficient administrative processes but also foster community trust by reducing uncertainties surrounding project funding and realization. The benefits of such a revision would resonate through the province, offering municipalities a clearer pathway to housing development while aligning with community expectations and fiscal responsibilities.
In light of the pressing need to expand affordable housing options in Alberta, it is imperative that we take a page from the playbook of Premier Peter Lougheed’s era of efficient hospital construction. During that time, Alberta saw significant capital investment in healthcare facilities, with a focus on streamlined design that was replicated in about 20 builds across various communities. This standardization facilitated timely approval of construction-ready projects, eliminating the need to expend tax dollars on multiple sets of pre-design, schematic design, design development, and architectural construction documents for each new facility. We are requesting applying similar methodology to affordable housing project construction. Utilizing such a process could not only save millions of dollars per project, but it could also expedite construction timelines and slash bureaucratic red tape surrounding funding allocation. As we consider adopting a similar approach, it is crucial that extensive engagement be conducted to ensure that the new scalable modular designs meet the diverse and evolving needs of Albertans, now and into the future.
In conclusion, by revisiting and refining the Affordable Housing Partnership Program’s application process, Alberta can bolster housing initiatives, enhance community trust, and ensure prudent fiscal management across its municipalities. It is a step towards a more stable, transparent, and community-centered housing future.
15-23S: Capital Funding Support for Housing Management Bodies
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.
Click here to view the full resolution.
12-22F: Restore 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.