The fight to build and sustain affordable housing isn’t always easy. But the challenges faced have demonstrated St. Albert’s determination to provide support to those most in need.
For more than a decade, St. Albert Affordable Housing Society has campaigned to end homelessness and provide viable rental accommodation to those most vulnerable.
Through its more recent Home Connection program, single parents, seniors, disabled adults, women escaping domestic violence and families with disabled children have received much needed support.
The concept behind the Home Connection Program is to provide rental subsidies with a goal towards independence, said operations manager Carol Sloan.
“It’s more serious than people realize. I get calls every day. St. Albert has one of the highest rental rates in Alberta. We need workers, but if they’re earning minimum wage and they’re paying more than 30 per cent of income, they’re really struggling.”
Although the society is facing a projected 37 per cent cut to its operating grant, it is determined to continue making a difference in the lives of individuals and families in need.
It is hosting the 2018 Homestyle Breakfast Benefit, a major fundraiser that provides a needed infusion of funds, on Tuesday, Oct. 30, at the St. Albert Curling Club.
Although still in the planning stages, the society will announce a tentatively named Home Connections Social Media Campaign at the breakfast. It is a push for donations asking people to pledge small amounts on a monthly basis.
“We would like to encourage 400 families to donate $25 a month. Even $25 a month can make a big difference to the families we help. It’s just so important to our fundraising and giving on a monthly basis will be a big help,” said vice-chair Cheryl Dumont.
This year, the breakfast’s special guest is Doug Griffiths, a retired MLA and author. The Ardrossan resident grew up in Coronation where he ranched and taught high school.
But it was his work as a four-term MLA holding cabinet portfolios as minister of Municipal Affairs as well as minister of Service Alberta that provided a foundation for his viewpoints.
Dubbed a “community therapist” he wrote 13 Ways to Kill Your Community. Following the success of the how-to book, Griffiths provides consultation services to towns, organizations and businesses.
A strong advocate of diversity, Griffiths notes that the ability of a community to be relevant depends on the people, the culture and the opportunities. Unfortunately some communities develop a NIMBY approach that can backfire.
“We fail because of our attitudes,” said Griffiths, who will discuss the common mistakes communities make that inhibit growth.
“Housing is one of the most important pillars in a community for a lot of reasons. When there is diversity, it enriches the community. The best way to get diversity is to have housing that matches those needs,” he said.
The affordable housing society receives calls every day from people requesting assistance.
Sloan explains that when people have a limited income, they will sacrifice food, health and dental care.
“One family even moved back to Quebec because they couldn’t afford it here.”
She also provided a few comparison statistics from the Canadian Rental Index giving a glimpse into St. Albert’s need for subsidized housing.
The average monthly rent and utilities for St. Albert is $1,555 while across the province it drops to $1,280.
There are 39 per cent of St. Albertans spending more than 30 per cent of their income on rent and utilities compared with 36 per cent across Alberta.
More shockingly, there are 19 per cent of St. Albertans spending more than 50 per cent on rent and utilities compared with 16 per cent across Alberta.
Help remedy the inequalities. Single tickets for the breakfast are $48. A table for five is $200 and a table for 10 is $400. Call 780-544-2205 or visit www.stalberthousing.com.