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City of Edmonton launches $1.5-million grant program to convert problem properties into affordable housing

Dubbed problem properties, homes that have been abandoned and used for drug labs or squatting have been a longstanding issue in Edmonton’s core

The City of Edmonton launched a $1.5-million pilot program Tuesday morning to help non-profit organizations convert problem properties into affordable housing.

Organizations will be eligible for up to 40 per cent of construction costs for the redevelopment of up to five residences. Dubbed problem properties, homes that have been abandoned and used for drug labs or squatting have been a longstanding issue in Edmonton’s core. This grant program, approved by council last June, is one part of a 30-point plan to address these properties.

Christel Kjenner, the city’s director of affordable housing and homelessness, said funding for the pilot program will come from the city’s $133-million affordable housing investment plan with the goal of creating 2,500 new units by 2022 through grants, surplus school site redevelopment and supportive housing development.

“Problem properties are a symptom of the affordable housing shortage in Edmonton,” Kjenner said in a news release Tuesday morning. “Unsafe, poorly managed housing is sometimes a last resort for Edmontonians who need low-cost housing. This investment will help people who need safe and affordable housing while bringing stability back to neighbourhoods that have been negatively affected by problem properties.”

These derelict and abandoned homes have a history of bylaw violations and are a risk to the surrounding neighbourhoods, the city said. Applicants will need to purchase properties that are for sale either through a court order or foreclosure. Only properties that are vacant or have tenants on short-term leases set to expire will be considered eligible. Applications are being accepted from now until May 24.

‘Win-win’ for Edmontonians: Iveson

Mayor Don Iveson said the grant program will alleviate concerns about these problem properties and build stronger communities.

“Improving community safety and the vibrancy of our neighbourhoods while also making progress towards our goal of expanding affordable housing in Edmonton means this pilot program is a win-win for Edmontonians,” Iveson said in the news release. “As we continue in our fight against COVID-19, and the inequities it has exacerbated, programs like this one help ensure we’ll emerge from this pandemic a more inclusive and family-friendly city.”

As of this month, city council has approved support for 1,187 units of affordable housing and 289 units of supportive housing.

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