April 19th, 2024

New supportive housing project getting underway

By Lethbridge Herald on March 7, 2024.

Dignitaries including Lethbridge Housing Authority CAO Robin James, third from left, minister Jason Nixon and mayor Blaine Hyggen shovel frozen soil into the air Thursday at the ceremonial groundbreaking of the new $10.2 million LHA 30-bed supportive housing project on Stafford Drive North. Herald photo by Al Beeber

Al Beeber – LETHBRIDGE HERALD – abeeber@lethbridgeherald.com

Ground was figuratively broken Thursday on Lethbridge Housing Authority’s $10.2 million new supportive housing unit.

Dignitaries including LHA’s Chief Administrative officer Robin James, provincial Minister of Seniors, Community and Social Services Jason Nixon, mayor Blaine Hyggen and others ceremoniously threw some frozen soil into the frigid air at the site of the project at 416 Stafford Drive North.

Nixon, James and Hyggen all spoke at the announcement of the project which was made at Haig Tower downtown.

When completed, the project will provide 30 units of supportive housing for the city’s vulnerable population, those who are homeless as well as people who live with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and need long-term supports.

Construction will begin this spring on the project which is a joint initiative of the provincial government, the City of Lethbridge and LHA.

Funding, says the province, is eligible for federal cost-matching under the National Housing Strategy bilateral agreement.

The project is the first of its kind to be built in the city and according to James “will provide residents with stable, recovery oriented, supportive housing.”

At the announcement, James said “we know homelessness is a complex issue that requires a comprehensive and recovery-orientated response. We must strive to create a system of care which addresses the underlying causes of homelessness and supports individuals to reach their highest level of independence.

“A recovery orientated system of care is based on principles of empowerment, hope and person-centric care.”

She said the purpose-built property will have a lodge-style, barrier-free design that will let people who have experienced chronic homelessness to live in a recovery- oriented facility.

Nixon told the audience of dignitaries and media that LHA is “one of our very critical partners in the province that us helps to accomplish the very important work that we do in Community and Social Services to make sure that all Albertans have a safe place to call home.”

Since 1995, the LHA has played a pivotal role in Lethbridge, increasing the number of affordability housing units and “working with thousands of Albertans to get them into affordable homes, to ensure that they have rent supplements and that ultimately they are able to meet their housing needs,” added Nixon.

The investment in the LHA project “is not just about providing an affordable unit for people but is also about providing social supports so residents can thrive and succeed. These services will ensure people get the support they need to have a safe, stable place to call home and ultimately to move onto to lead successful lives. Having an affordable place to live while people get on their feet is crucial,” Nixon added.

“Projects such as this are part of our commitment to ensure Albertans have access to longterm sustainable, safe and affordable housing all across Alberta,” he added.

He said the province is working with dozens of partners across the province to provide tens of thousands of affordable homes for Albertans.

“Now more than ever it is crucial to come up with solution with our partners to ensure Albertans have homes to meet their needs. This includes increasing the stock of affordable housing through increased measures like capital grants for housing providers, rental assistance” and building projects like the new LHA project, he said.

The province is committed to investing in affordable housing for years to come and with its partners is undertaking $9 billion of work between 2024 and 2031 to create 13,000 more affordable housing units, he said.

The government is also investing heavily in rent supplements with Nixon’s department alone investing a quarter billion dollars alone in rent supplements, said the Minister.

Alberta has also undertaken $5.1 billion in affordability measures and support investment during the inflation and financial crises in the past several years, which Nixon said is the highest investment in affordability in Canada.

He noted the province realizes the housing crisis in Alberta and across the country can’t be solved without making sure the supply of housing increases.

And while affordable housing is a key part of that, market conditions need to be created to help build tens of thousands of homes in Alberta over the next four or five years, as many as 150,000, he said.

Hyggen said the announcement is a great day for the city.

“Lethbridge has rates higher than the provincial average of aging population, number of people with physical, cognitive and/or psychological disabilities, mental health issues and an increasing number of individuals experiencing homelessness. This indicates a critical need for more supportive housing units which meet community needs pertaining to level of service and accessibility,”he said.

A significant number of people who are homeless need supportive housing and the project will “provide a pathway out of homelessness and allow individuals to overcome or better manage issues related to developmental disabilities, substance abuse problems and mental health issues,” added the mayor.

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I would much rather see such a quiet display than the booming ones. I used to love fireworks, but now that I see and read about how much it disturbs the aminals, I am no longer a fan! Sorry, Mr. Adams; although I’m pretty sure such knowledge would be news to him too..
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