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City approves short-term affordable housing plan

Grande Prairie city council has given the green light to a new batch of funding as part of this year’s affordable housing strategy. The plan will, among other things, allot $1.3 million to the Grande Spirit Foundation for rental assistance programming over two years.

$100,000 will go to land studies to help develop the Smith subdivision while up to $150,000 in funding will go to a continuing care project. Also included is the transfer of 19 social housing units to Grande Spirit Foundation.

Mayor Jackie Clayton says the pressing needs of a number of residents facing financial and housing instability are a high priority for city council. She adds, however, the housing strategy is very much aimed at the short term.

“To deal with immediate needs with struggling residents, leveraging existing assets and seizing funding opportunities as we prepare for the future,” she says. “Adopting a long term, multi-faceted ​strategy is still necessary and will be a focus for administration; this truly just gives us an agreed-upon starting point.”

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One potential sticking point was brought up during the city council meeting when the discussion swung towards whether to transfer the units to the foundation or sell them and give the proceeds instead. However, Clayton says they wanted to make sure they look at other potential options.

“The discussion was whether or not there was more value in selling the asset and using the dollars potentially for a housing project through another method,” she explains. “In the end, council supported the transfer of the assets.”

According to City of Grande Prairie data, 477 households in the city were on the waitlist for family or special purpose housing as of 2017.

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