Alberta government moves toward private partnerships and sale of affordable housing projects

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The Alberta government introduced legislation Monday that would open the door to controversial public-private partnerships for affordable housing projects.

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If passed, Bill 78, the Alberta Housing Amendment Act, will allow the government to form “joint ventures” with private for-profit companies in an effort to attract more investment to expand and improve affordable housing. The government said that once the bill takes effect, it will take steps to review its assets with the goal of selling some affordable government-owned homes.

At a press conference on Monday before introducing the bill, Housing and Seniors Minister Josephine Pon claimed that the measures did not amount to privatization because the proceeds from the sales would be traced back to her affordable housing efforts, and public-private partnerships, also known as P3, would. I still see the government very involved.

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“We call it a partnership, not a privatization … the government will continue to manage and work with the owner, the non-profit organizations or the housing provider, and we will continue to manage,” Pon told reporters, adding that the government would do comply with agreements to maintain the home. Affordable units.

However, the details on the potential P3s will depend on the agreements that have not yet been reached. Pon said they will save taxpayer dollars by converting assets into cash that could pay for operating costs, but details on partners and deals will be released “later.”

“We may not sell all next year, or within two years, it is long-term for 10 years,” said Pon, adding that, for example, if after 10 years, a private company wants to exit a deal, the government take over the facility.

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The measures are based on the recommendations of the Alberta Housing Review Panel and its 10-year affordable housing strategy. Previous legislation did not give the government the authority to enter into such “joint venture” association agreements.

The government said its goal is to shift its role from a major homeowner to a funder and regulator.

Pon said that much of the affordable housing system is inefficient and bogged down by red tape.

“Government investment alone cannot meet Alberta’s growing need for affordable housing, but there is still a need for the government to provide financing and other incentives, and hold our partners accountable to Albertans,” he said. .

In April, more than 110,000 low-income Albertans were living in affordable housing and more than 24,000 were on the waiting list. Pon said the government aims to reduce that waiting list by 30 percent by 2023.

The 10-year strategy aims to support an additional 25,000 households, increasing the total number of households accessing affordable housing to 82,000.

Once the bill takes effect, the government will begin to develop its “asset management framework,” which will identify properties for sale, transfer, retention, or development.

More to come …

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