By Jake Cardinal, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
(ANNews) – On January 12, 2022, the city of Edmonton announced a new housing initiative that will create 138 new affordable homes for individuals in Edmonton through the Rapid Housing Initiative (RHI).
These housing units will support Canadians who are in uncertain housing situations, experiencing or at risk of homelessness, or living in temporary shelters because of the pandemic.
The city also announced that $14.8 million would be put towards the new initiative. This is in addition to the $42 million investment from the federal government for the first phase of the RHI — which is supporting the creation of 247 homes.
Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Housing and Diversity and Inclusion, said of the new funding stream, “Every Canadian deserves a safe and affordable place to call home. Today’s funding through the Rapid Housing Initiative will go a long way to support those who need it most by quickly providing 138 new affordable homes for vulnerable individuals in Edmonton.”
“This is one of the ways our National Housing Strategy continues to ensure no one is left behind,” he said.
The first project — located at 10333 University Avenue NW — will convert the former Days Inn Hotel into up to 85 new homes for Indigenous peoples as well as those experiencing or at risk of homelessness and will be operated by The Mustard Seed, a Christian non-profit organization focused on helping individuals experiencing poverty and homelessness.
Dean Kurpjuweit, Chief Regional Officer of The Mustard Seed, said of the project, “The Mustard Seed is honoured to receive funding through Rapid Housing Initiative, and we thank the Government of Canada for their support. The number of people unhoused in Edmonton has grown substantially in the last few years and there is a critical shortage of affordable and supportive housing options.”
The second project — located at 12340 Fort Road NW — will convert the former Sands Hotel into 53 new homes for Indigenous people and will be operated by NiGiNan Housing Ventures, a non-profit regsitered charity is creating supportive and affordable housing for native persons in Edmonton.
“We greatly appreciate the Government of Canada and City of Edmonton for supporting us in our mission to create a safe, welcoming and culturally-sensitive option for Indigenous Peoples, and others who are experiencing chronic houselessness,” said Carola Cunningham, CEO of NiGiNan Housing Ventures.
“The Sands supportive rapid housing initiative, like our others, Ambrose Place and Omamoo Wango Gamik, enacts change for residents and the community by providing a cost-effective and human approach to housing.”
Amarjeet Sohi, Mayor of Edmonton, said, “Today’s announcement means that up to 138 families will now have a place of their own to call home. A place where they can keep warm and feel safe.”
“The COVID-19 pandemic has caused the number of houseless Edmontonians to double over the last two years so these new housing spaces will help to address the housing crisis we are currently facing. I look forward to continuing to work with the federal government as we work towards ensuring that every Edmontonian has a safe place to call home.”
The new investments under the RHI will also create thousands of jobs in the housing and construction sector, grow the middle class, and build back stronger communities.
Also important to note: at least 25 percent of this new funding will go toward women-focused housing projects.
The RHI was created to in 2020 to address urgent housing needs of vulnerable Canadians, especially in the context of COVID-19, through the rapid construction of affordable housing.