NHA Adds 6th Building in Hillhurst/Sunnyside

The City of Calgary recently released a report on housing in Canada’s big cities, and in it noted that Calgary has a severe shortage of purpose-built rental housing in numbers falling well below that of other big cities in the country. Despite high vacancy rates, many Calgarians are priced out of both the existing rental market and the home ownership market, with the Canadian Rental Housing Index showing almost 40% of all Calgarians paying more than 30% of their monthly income on rent and utilities. A healthy spectrum of housing supply is critical in supporting affordability and this means our city has a pressing goal of “getting to average” in terms of meeting the national level of affordable housing.

Given our mission over the last 38 years of creating inclusive communities through mixed-market rental housing, we believe that NHA has an obligation to do as much as it can to provide more affordable housing in Calgary. We know that affordable housing is an issue for thousands of Calgarians who are homeless and the tens of thousands who struggle each month to stay housed. We are excited and committed to do as much as we can, with the help of our partners, to increase our contribution to the affordable housing landscape in Calgary.

In 2017, Norfolk Housing Association proudly became mortgage free on five buildings in the Hillhurst and Sunnyside area of Calgary. This financial reality, combined with the fact that the organization has maintained the quality and integrity of its’ buildings with significant capital investments, means that Norfolk is in a position to expand.

With all of that said, we are thrilled to announce that the first steps have been taken, through the acquisition of an additional building right here in the Hillhurst and Sunnyside area. The new building aligns with our promise to find creative ways to serve families, with a healthy mix of 1 and 2 bedroom units in a community with access to the amenities that matter – transit, schools, daycare, grocers, and walking paths.

Norfolk’s model works because we focus on building healthy residencies and long-term relationships with all residents.  Market residents support community and inclusiveness by spending their rental dollars at Norfolk and creating an opportunity for those dollars to be re-allocated to other residents. We work with various partner agencies that support successful and inclusive housing who refer non-market residents to us and work to provide social services as necessary. This focus on long-term relationships supports a sense of home and belonging, which prevents people from falling into homelessness.

With the new building, and in keeping with our strong belief in the right to home, the organization will absorb the tenancies of the new building and support a very natural movement of residents toward a mixed-income model, versus imposing immediate requirements. We are committed to continuing, first and foremost, to housing current and future residents in a quality and long-term focused approach, and to continue to provide opportunities for ALL residents to meet their needs, whether by engaging with our social services partners or with the larger community.

We are very grateful for the support of the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) who partnered with us over decades to provide low interest mortgages, which has facilitated our current financial health. Additionally, we are forever grateful to our Board of Directors and members for their vision, unity, and support in getting more persons and families in Calgary adequately and appropriately housed without delay, and for their passion and commitment to NHA.

But this is just the beginning for Norfolk. Later this year we will be launching a portable housing benefit to support families pursuing skills training and post-secondary education who may be unable to access subsidized housing but struggle to pay market rents. Additionally, we are interested in exploring partnerships and purchasing more purpose-built properties so please get in touch if you have ideas for us. Together we can work together to get – and keep – more Calgarians successfully housed.

Thank you to all of you for your continued support of our work!

The Proof is in the Pudding: A Norfolk Staff Shares Her Story from Minimum Wage to Living Wage

In high school I began working various minimum wage retails jobs to save up for my post-secondary education. But when the time came to head into college, having moved out on my own and helped my parents here and there, I still found that I was struggling to make ends meet. Even with the help of resources I was able to access, such as the Calgary food bank, I couldn’t get ahead of my spending because it was all necessary and time constrained. Bills were due at a certain time, rent was due at the end of the month, and I still had barely saved up enough to survive during college without working multiple retail jobs.

During my first year of post-secondary at SAIT, I worked two retail jobs to make ends meet, occasionally having to switch to new ones if the shifts dried up or didn’t fit my new class schedule. I was running from school to work and to home to try and get through my homework, often studying until the early hours of the morning.

It was not until I was fortunate enough to find a part-time position with Norfolk Housing Association that I was able to catch a break and afford some stability. I quit my two retail jobs and found financially I was still better off, because Norfolk paid me a living wage. This gave me more time to focus on school work and more downtime, too. I was even able to start a Tax Free Savings Account, and at least make a small monthly contribution.

Fast forward to 3 months later, and I am proud to say that I have saved enough to even help my parents get much-needed winter tires for their vehicle – something they’ve never had since emigrating to Canada in 2003.

The transition from minimum wage to living wage has greatly affected my life.  The security of earning more and having stable, constant hours has touched and improved almost every aspect of my life. My sleep has improved, I have more time to spend on my important relationships, and I experience less physical pain. I also find that I have the option to make better choices with the same budget, knowing that I won’t see a fluctuation in hours or my next pay cheque. Additionally, I am able to put away some money every month into my rainy day fund in the case of an emergency.

So what do I think a living wage really means? A living wage means a mental sense of comfort and security for those who receive it. It strengthens the loyalty one has to their employer, as well as creates indispensable employees who are committed and engaged. I feel fortunate for this change in circumstance, and more so when I consider entire families attempting to live on minimum wage.

By sharing my story, I hope to encourage more employers to consider the immense impact on employee retention, stability, and loyalty alongside the more human aspects of lifting people out of poverty and paying a living wage. We all benefit when we are all lifted up.

Written by Shay Khan
Edited by Cynthia Mazereeuw

Alberta Residential Tenancy Act

Familiarize yourself with the rules and regulations as it pertains to residential tenancy in Alberta with this helpful guide from the Alberta Government.

The handbook explains the rights and responsibilities of tenants, landlords, and agents in Alberta under the Residential Tenancies Act (RTA) and regulations.

View online or download a copy at:

https://www.servicealberta.ca/RTA-handbook-and-quick-reference-guide.cfm

 

Building Healthy Communities