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Grant to help create affordable housing in Wood Buffalo

Last Updated Jul 20, 2020 at 4:57 pm MDT

IMAGE. Supplied by Wood Buffalo Housing.

Wood Buffalo Housing (WBH) annoucned it is the recipient of a province-wide real estate grant that will help create affordable housing in the region.

The organization learned last month their bid for a $105,000 grant from the Alberta Real Estate Foundation was successful.

The funding will provide 30 single and multi-family units in Wood Buffalo.

Housing needs

WBH said it meets the immediate need for affordable housing during unprecedented times.

The group also said it will help residents seeking longer-term real estate options.

Henry Hunter, President and CEO of WBH, said the AREF approached the group in May.

He said former RMWB Councillor Tyran Ault, who sits on the AREF board, encouraged the organization to reached out to WBH following the flood.

“Ty had actually mentioned Wood Buffalo Housing, and so they actually contacted us to see if they could help.”

Hunter said AREF told the group about the grant and encouraged them to submit an application that week.

“We were completely honest with them: Based on the overwhelming number of calls we were receiving at that time, people were in need of affordable furnished accommodations and we only had a handful to provide.”

When they received approval, Hunter said WBH was ecstatic.

He said the funding will increase the WBH’s capacity to accommodate during times of emergency.

“Even outside of these natural disaster-type scenarios, we often receive requests from people seeking affordable furnished accommodations, whether it’s someone travelling from one of our region’s rural communities for an extended period of time for medical or other reasons, or someone new to the community that needs an affordable and safe place to lay their head at night.”

Hunter recounted when the WBH was in a similar position after the 2016 wildfire.

Doug Leighton, Chair of the AREF, said the board was unanimous in its desire to aid Wood Buffalo residents.

“We are all aware of the extraordinary chain of events that [have] hurt this community and our Board was eager to fund an initiative that would have a significant and immediate impact. While the Foundation does not normally fund capital projects, the Board agreed that the creation of furnished emergency accommodations will help meet immediate housing needs and enhance affordable housing options in Wood Buffalo.”

WBH learned AREF accepted their application in late June.

Work on furnished units will begin in the coming months.

“We’re very thankful to get this money from the Alberta Real Estate Foundation. We’ve helped over 10,000 people go from getting a home and a place to stay in Fort McMurray through to homeownership, and this will help us continue that vision.”

Once they complete the units, WBH will be ready to accept applicants.

Information about the Alberta Real Estate Foundation and the grant is available on their website.

Residents in need of accommodation, or affected by the spring flooding should contact Wood Buffalo Housing at (780) 799-4050.