The City of Airdrie has announced a new partnership with the Rural Development Network (RDN), an Alberta-based non-profit organization, to investigate opportunities to bolster the availability of affordable housing choices in Airdrie.
Through the RDN’s Sustainable Housing Initiative (SHI), which was developed in 2015 to create a model to develop affordable housing in rural communities, the municipality will conduct a formal Housing Landscape Opportunity Analysis.
In a City press release, Mayor Peter Brown said the research garnered from the analysis is a valuable step toward developing a larger strategy to address housing concerns in Airdrie.
“We look forward to working with the Rural Development Network as the City is focusing its efforts on creating more opportunities for residents to access housing that is achievable on their income,” Mayor Brown said in the press release.
The project, called the Enabling Housing Choice project, and the associated analysis will gather research on the challenges and opportunities that currently exist within Airdrie’s housing landscape.
As a result, these findings will assist the municipality in responding to the growing housing demands that emerge from Airdrie’s rapidly growing population, according to the same press release.
The RDN’s website said the SHI has developed a guide to developing affordable housing and has created the expertise to provide both capacity and consulting services tailored to the unique needs of rural communities.
The initiative aims to equip these communities to successfully develop financially sustainable affordable housing.
“We support rural sustainability by filling gaps in service and avoiding unnecessary duplication of services,” read the RDN’s website. “To accurately identify social issues and find effective solutions for them, we listen to hear and understand each community’s needs and develop solutions in partnership with them.
“Each solution is tailored to reflect the uniqueness of the residents for whom it was created.”
The SHI comes after Airdrie City council approved a below-market housing strategy in the spring of 2021. Airdrie’s lack of affordable housing inventory is evidenced by a 2017 assessment that found the city’s affordable housing stock was woefully inadequate.
A key aspect of RDN’s work is to support communities in implementing the proposed solutions by providing capacity, according to the website.
“All too often projects are started, but stall without the right expertise and physical resources needed to become a reality,” the statement continued. “We are committed to seeing projects through to completion.”
The SHI is working to support diverse, sustainable, and equitable housing development in Albertan communities through the project, according to the City. The project was made possible through funding and support from the Alberta Real Estate Foundation.
“The Enabling Housing Choice project is a wonderful initiative that’s working to improve housing diversity in various Albertan communities and will eventually develop a guidebook to serve as a resource for groups across the country,” said Asad Bhatti, director of housing at the RDN.
“We are very excited to work with the City of Airdrie on this project, where housing is a key issue for the community, to see how research and planning can help assist the community in developing more housing diversity.”