Published on September 6, 2022
Affordable Housing in Your Community
St. Albert is made up of households of many sizes, occupations and ages. There is strength in bringing our unique skills and backgrounds together to make our community the best it can be.
Having a variety of housing options, including adequate affordable housing, means all residents can have a place to call home.
Affordable housing refers to safe and suitable housing that a person or family can afford, while allowing them to still have money for other living expenses such as food, transportation or clothing. It could be an apartment, townhouse, or even single dwelling home that’s rented or owned.
Watch the video below to learn more about affordable housing in your community and why it’s important for St. Albert.
Who is affordable housing for?
Not everyone can pay for housing provided by the market. As the cost of living is on the rise, it is getting harder and harder to make ends meet.
To break this down, the average cost of a one-bedroom apartment in St. Albert is $1,169/month. To meet the national affordability standards, renters would need to make at least $25.70/hour working 35 hours/week to reasonably pay this rent. With Alberta’s minimum wage at $15/hour, and the highest percentage of jobs in St. Albert being in the retail trade, this can create a disconnect between housing costs, wages and jobs.
Housing costs are a household’s single highest expense, however, there is also a strong relationship between food costs and housing expenses. In any given month, around 400 local families require temporary assistance from the St. Albert Community Village and Food Bank. Anywhere from 52 to 67 per cent of these households are paying more than half of their income towards housing. This leaves these households in an unsustainable situation that cannot be maintained.
However, unexpected adverse events such as job loss, illness, divorce, loss of a partner or an unanticipated expense can happen to us all.
Housing affordability impacts female-led households the most, including single females living alone (senior and non-senior) and female-led lone-parent families with children. Low to moderate income households are most at risk, whether they are working at minimum wage jobs, are the sole family income earner or are living on old age security and Canada Pension benefits.
The most recent census housing data from 2016 shows that two in five St. Albert households were in “core housing need,” which means they were:
- Paying more than 30 per cent of their income toward housing costs (rent or mortgage).
- Living in accommodation that is not suitable for their family size, or their housing is in need of major repairs.
- Not able to find alternative market rental accommodation in St. Albert that would be suitable for their household size based on incomes earned.
So, what is being done?
The City is actively working towards addressing our residents’ housing needs.
This means providing more affordable and market housing products in both rental and ownership housing forms suitable for different income levels, involving community groups in decisions and advocating for resources supporting youth and individuals requiring emergency housing.
Some of the current affordable housing Initiatives in St. Albert including the following:
- North Ridge Place - Completed in two phases and enabled through a $16 million grant from the province, it includes 90 one- and two-bedroom units principally for seniors over the age of 65. Affordable rents are offered at a minimum of 10 per cent below market rates.
- Habitat for Humanity Homes - St. Albert has 35 Habitat for Humanity homes located in three neighbourhoods. Habitat offers a home ownership model for low-income families with children through a partial zero-interest mortgage, also requiring a down payment contribution of 500 hours of volunteer labour. The City has supported the Habitat Model through funding to purchase land for the developments.
- Secondary Suites - Secondary suites promote affordability, as a source of income for the homeowner and are typically rented at lower rates than market apartments, providing a lower cost housing option for the renter. Secondary suites can be built within a single-family home in all areas of the city as long as the suite complies with the Land Use Bylaw requirements through the Development Permit process. A garden or a garage suite can also be built as a discretionary use on a single-family home lot, with only one form of secondary suite permitted on a single lot.
- St. Albert Housing Society - The City supported the formation of the St. Albert Housing Society which offers 27 units in Big Lake Pointe and provides rental assistance subsidies through the Home Connection Program to eligible families.
- Mayor’s Task Force to End Homelessness – This task forces’ final report was approved by Council in August 2020. The report identified populations most at risk of homelessness in St. Albert and provided recommendations to advance community efforts to enhance housing options for vulnerable populations.
What resources can I access today?
For information on St. Albert rental housing options refer to the City’s Housing Resources page that provides links to affordable housing options in St. Albert, rental accommodation listings, rental assistance programs and ownership assistance programs.
For information on the Utility Relief Grant Program refer to the St. Albert Community Village and Food Bank
The City’s Family & Community Support Services branch can help if you are looking for additional support programs and services, including recreation and transit subsidy programs, or call 780-459-1756 to speak with a Community Support Worker who can help you navigate supports you may need.
One of St. Albert’s goals is to be a welcoming and inclusive community where everyone can feel at home for years to come and having adequate affordable housing makes that a reality.
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Last edited: September 7, 2022