The Mayor of Calgary is not happy, and he's literally known for being happy. Naheed Nenshi has warned that the city could be forced to shutter entire buildings after Alberta's affordable housing cuts were announced in the province’s budget. Therefore, he said, the city could end up with less affordable housing at a time when more is needed.
Alberta’s United Conservative Party unveiled its second budget on Thursday, February 27.
The focus was very much on big numbers — reducing the province’s deficit and debt forecasts — as reported by the Edmonton Journal.
But what caught Nenshi’s eye was a cut to the affordable housing maintenance budget, reports the Calgary Herald.
Alberta’s last budget set aside $168.2 million of funding for this area between 2020 and 2023. But the 2020 document reduces the three-year figure to $115.2 million.
And according to Nenshi and other critics, this $53 million reduction could be hugely damaging.
On Thursday night, he tweeted, “Straight up — we will likely have to close affordably housing units because they are not fit for people to live. We need to build 15,000 new units, not to close existing ones.”
Nenshi is known for speaking out in public interest, and he's made no exception in the case of affordable housing.
In #abbudget, there are some challenges, but the biggest one in the short-term is the $53M in cuts to affordable housing maintenance.— Naheed Nenshi (@Naheed Nenshi)1582864481.0
Straight up — we will likely have to close affordable housing units because they are not fit for people to live.… https://t.co/MuKHrTeLEu— Naheed Nenshi (@Naheed Nenshi)1582864482.0
Nenshi, who last year slammed Alberta's cuts to transit budgets, elaborated on his concerns when speaking to media.
Global News quotes Nenshi describing the cut as a “surprise” and a “shocker.”
He apparently told reporters that if someone moves out of affordable housing in the city, Calgary will not be able to give their unit to someone else “because it doesn’t meet basic life requirements.”
Nenshi added that Calgary could be forced to close “entire buildings.”
I’m deeply concerned by the cut to affordable housing capital maintenance announced in today’s budget. It’s a $53M… https://t.co/GzvPuLBGCY— Druh Farrell (@Druh Farrell)1582856005.0
Druh Farrell, a city councillor, also shared her concerns about the affordable housing budget cut.
“This is moving us in the wrong direction,” she said. “Early estimates are that this could mean the closure of 100 units.”
We need to protect our most vulnerable neighbours. Calgarians who live in affordable housing are going to be devast… https://t.co/2WYBmPmg2U— Druh Farrell (@Druh Farrell)1582856361.0
In a later tweet, she added, “We need to protect our most vulnerable neighbours. Calgarians who live in affordable housing are going to be devastated by these impacts. Our city is already short 15,000 affordable housing units. Closing existing units will mean more Calgarians will be homeless.”
Narcity has reached out to Alberta's government for comment and we will update this story when we receive a response.