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About affordable housing

Great cities are places where everyone can afford to live and work. Housing and housing affordability are foundational to position our communities as inclusive and vibrant, placing Calgary on the map as one of the most livable cities in the world.

To keep pace with very high population growth, Calgary needs to increase and diversify housing options in all communities so Calgarians can find homes that meet their lifestyle, budget, and neighbourhood preferences.

Affordable housing background

A healthy housing system offers a diverse mix of structures to suit a variety of individual and family needs, e.g. apartments, townhomes, single-family dwellings. It includes both rental and ownership properties at market and non-market (subsidized) rates, offering people at all income levels access to safe and stable housing. 

Calgary’s housing market is suffering a supply deficit in the non-market (affordable housing) sector. Since 2011, the average increase in new affordable housing units is 308 units per year. To keep up with demand, Calgary needs 2,000 - 2,500 new units per year. 

We work with the provincial and federal governments, non-profit organizations and private sector developers to close this gap. 

Research and trends

Research on Calgary’s housing system and why research is important to what we do.

More information about Affordable Housing in Calgary

Affordable housing quick facts

More than 3,200 Calgarians are homeless

More than 2,911 Calgarians are homeless.

Percentage rental: Montreal 64%; Toronto 45%; Edmonton 35%; Calgary 28%; Canada 31%

The percentage of income that Calgarians use to pay for rental is 28%.

Income needed to afford average rent for a two-bedroom apartment in Calgary: $53,000

The income required to afford rent for a two-bedroom apartment in Calgary is $53,000.

75%; Calgary households with insufficient income to buy a single-family house

75% of Calgary households have insufficient incomes to buy a single-family house. 

Calgary's lowest market rental rates are among the highest in Canada, and the supply is limited

Calgary’s lowest market rental rates are among the highest in Canada.

Every billion dollars invested in housing grows Canada's economy by $1.4 billion and generates up to 13,000 indirect and direct jobs

Every $1 billion dollars invested in housing grows Canada's economy by $1.4 billion and generates up to 13,000 indirect and direct jobs.

What is the definition of affordable housing?

According to The City's definition, a household is in need of affordable housing when it earns less than $60,000/year and pays more than 30 per cent of gross income on shelter costs.

There are two types of affordable housing offered by The City of Calgary:

  • Near market or (or low end of market) housing which includes rentals offered at rates approximately 10% below market rates.
  • Subsidized housing which includes several different program types including rent supplements for private landlord units.

Who lives in affordable housing?

Affordable housing serves people in varying circumstances. In a city as diverse as Calgary, it's important to have a wide range of housing options for people at all income levels and stages in life.

Affordable housing tenants can include working professionals and families who earn less than $60,000/year, as well as people who require subsidized housing for a variety of reasons, such as age and disability.

Different people have different housing needs and our purpose is to support people living in affordable housing and provide them with the platform and support to thrive.

Why is The City building affordable housing?

In Calgary, 84,000 households are earning less than $60,000 annually and paying more than 30% on shelter. This means nearly 1 in 5 Calgary households are struggling with shelter costs and 42,000 households are at risk of becoming homeless due to spending more than 50% of their gross income on shelter costs.

Currently, only 3.6% of all housing in Calgary is non-market housing; this is nearly half the national average in urban centres.

The City's goal is to increase the supply of affordable housing to ensure people at all income levels can live and work in our city.

For more information on The City's role in building affordable housing, click here.

How does affordable housing benefit the community?

At its most fundamental level, affordable housing is about people. Access to safe and stable housing helps create inclusive communities and adds to the overall health, prosperity and safety of our city.

People in affordable housing have greater chances to find and keep jobs, to learn and build skills, and be active participants in their communities.

Affordable housing also helps boost the local economy by increasing the purchasing power of residents and by attracting employers with the promise of a stable workforce.

Keeping vulnerable residents off the streets also helps to reduce demand and pressure on emergency services, hospitals and correction facilities. Providing housing for one homeless person has been shown to save taxpayers $34,000 annually.

How is the City addressing the ongoing need for affordable housing in Calgary?

The City has developed a Corporate Affordable Housing Strategy that defines a new 10-year strategic direction for the City of Calgary and will guide us in creating safe, affordable homes.

There is widespread consensus that the primary challenge facing Calgary's affordable housing sector is a lack of housing supply and this is why increasing the supply of new units is one of The City's top priorities.

In addition to building new City affordable housing units, we are also supporting and increasing the capacity of other housing providers and developers to build new units by making City land available at below market cost, offering grants and incentive programs to get the Calgary community building and streamlining the development permit process.

What does it cost to live in affordable housing?

Rents in City-owned affordable housing developments are set according to a mixed income model. This helps maintain the financial sustainability of the building and provide an inclusionary approach to housing where tenants of mixed financial means are blended together.

How do people get into affordable housing?

Many property managers in the affordable housing sector use qualifying criteria to select renters. Households on the CHC waiting list are prioritized according to The Government of Alberta's Social Housing Accommodation Regulations (SHAR), which set out a scoring system according to need.

Who manages The City’s affordable housing units?

Calgary Housing Company manages City-owned affordable housing developments. CHC has been a housing provider for 40 years, managing over 10,000 affordable housing units with more than 25,000 tenants and provides a variety of mixed income housing options.

How are affordable housing sites chosen?

Affordable housing locations are chosen based on certain criteria such as proximity to amenities including schools, grocery stores and transit.

Council has approved affordable housing going into every Calgary community. Currently, less than 50% of Calgary communities have affordable housing.

Affordable Housing myths

Myth: My property value will go down if affordable housing is built in my neighbourhood

Reality: More than 100 studies conducted in the US and Canada during the past 30 years show no evidence that property values are impacted by affordable housing developments. The City of Calgary does not consider the proximity of affordable housing in property tax assessments.

Myth: Crime in my neighbourhood will increase

Reality: Canadian studies have similar findings as research conducted in the US and other countries that crime rates in the neighbourhood are unaffected by the existence of the supportive housing buildings.

Myth: New residents won’t fit into the neighbourhood

Reality: Often, the future occupants of new affordable housing already live in or near the neighbourhood. They are people sharing housing with other family members or friends, or struggling to pay market rent by giving up meals or having to walk because they cannot afford transit fares. Complete communities provide housing opportunities for all.

Myth: Affordable housing design won’t fit with the neighbourhood / units will be an eyesore

Reality: Affordable housing must comply with the same building restrictions and design standards as market-rate housing, which includes fitting the character of the neighbourhood.