Calgary's city council will be asked next week to contribute "relatively minor" funding for affordable housing units in an effort to leverage money from the federal government under its rapid housing initiative, Mayor Naheed Nenshi said Thursday.
The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation's rapid housing initiative is part of the National Housing Strategy, a 10-year plan to invest more than $55 billion to create 125,000 new homes for Canadians in need.
The federal government is taking applications from municipalities and organizations with ideas to quickly create new affordable housing units.
In some instances, vacant hotels that are for sale are being targeted for redevelopment.
While some of Calgary's first applications succeeded, Nenshi said others were rejected for not meeting some criteria. He said the city is now looking at ways it can access additional funding from the program.
"We are going to have to free up a bit of capital to try and unlock some of that rapid housing money, so that we can show that we've got skin in the game," he said.
City hopes to get majority of funds from other governments
The city has already built some affordable housing units over the past year, including two buildings under construction that will create 120 affordable housing units in the northeast community of Temple.
The federal government said in April it would commit up to $12.5 million to the project under the rapid housing initiative.
However, Nenshi said that with some additional help from the federal and provincial governments, Calgary could end homelessness in three years with a plan to build more than 5,400 additional units.
They would cost nearly $600 million but are projected to save much more in spending on other programs, according to the city.
It is hoping to acquire most of the funds from other governments, though Nenshi said he has not "had much luck" with his efforts so far.
"The Government of Canada put $200 million into one project in downtown Toronto to create a few hundred units," Nenshi said.
"We can do 5,500 units for $600 million, and so … we'll continue to fight on that."