EDMONTON - Today marks National Housing Day. Advocacy organization Public Interest Alberta is calling on the City of Edmonton to commit to new funding for affordable housing during the upcoming municipal budget deliberations.
“We are facing a housing emergency and this budget needs to put housing first,” said Bradley Lafortune, the Executive Director of Public Interest Alberta. “Since the pandemic, homelessness in Edmonton has doubled. While thousands in our city are without a safe place to call home, the City has no new funding available for affordable housing in the budget as presented. In the absence of leadership from the provincial government on housing, we need the City to step up and do what they can at the local level.”
Shima Robinson, a spoken word artist and community organizer, highlighted the urgent need to address housing for all, and in particular for those most vulnerable to homelessness. She stressed that of the 2600 people in Edmonton facing homelessness, 20 percent are youth, and over half are Indigenous.
“The need for affordable accessible housing is a basic and fundamental measure of our societal capacity to live up to the responsibilities we have that balance our freedoms,” said Robinson. “To ignore this problem is to betray the foundation of our societal commitments. Housing is a human right and the practical solution to manifold social problems that we must harness the political will to address.”
Jim Gurnett, a housing rights advocate with the Edmonton Coalition on Housing and Homelessness, stressed the ongoing and worsening nature of the housing crisis.
“As someone who has been doing this work for decades, it is devastating to continue to see this disregard from all levels of government,” said Gurnett. “Successive governments have cut public services, including public affordable housing, for decades. It’s a fraction of what is needed. The City must act now.”
“Addressing the housing crisis is an investment in a just future,” added Lafortune. “Beyond being the right thing to do, every dollar invested into affordable housing yields four dollars in return. These investments will save lives and ensure we receive significant housing investments from other orders of government, and begin building an Edmonton for all.”