It is with deep concern that we read of the 42 per cent decrease in the St. Albert Housing Society’s allocation for 2019. We worked for several years with the Society of St. Vincent de Paul and saw first-hand the housing struggles when we visited the poor in St. Albert.
Our concern is based on the following thoughts.
1. Does St. Albert wish to become an “elite community” or are we open to citizens of all socio-economic categories? We would hope that we are open to a diverse population which must include those who require social/affordable/subsidized housing. This cutback looks like we are not open to low-income/needy families.
2. In other communities with an increase in the segment of the population who are needy and/or homeless, there are consequences and documented needs in areas of; a) increase in the number of hospital emergency room visits, b) increase in the number of police calls and policing regarding vagrancy, sleeping “rough” in the parks, homeless camps etc. c) increase in the use of the food bank, d) need for homeless shelter beds – we have none at present. What are your financial plans via taxation to address these needs if the provision of homes for these citizens is cut back? Experience in other communities has shown that it is less expensive to permanently house people than to deal with the consequences of homelessness. Perhaps you need to reconsider your support for the Housing Society’s work and not cut back their allocation 42 per cent.
3. It is our understanding that a proposal has been made for the St. Albert Housing Society to join Capital Housing or Sturgeon Foundation. If this is done, St. Albert would not be on the top of the list for housing but in competition with the other communities that also have substantial needs, especially Edmonton. We feel our tax money is better allocated to meeting St. Albert needs and not in competition with other communities.
4. We agree that the St. Albert Housing Society needs to have long-range plans in place to better meet the needs of the community. Trying to predict 10 years ahead is difficult, if not impossible. We would suggest that a five-year plan would be more accurate, more reasonable and more likely to succeed.
Please consider returning the St. Albert Housing Society funding to the 2018 level and pledging ongoing support to the society in future budgets.
Lynne and Lou Duigou, St. Albert