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Rezoning: only ambitious action will ease Calgary’s housing crisis

March 20, 2024

Author: Inam Teja, Policy & Advocacy Specialist, Calgary Drop-In Centre

Calgary’s housing shortage is being experienced most painfully by the most vulnerable in our society. The Calgary Drop-In Centre is calling on City Council to follow through on Home is Here: The City of Calgary’s Housing Strategy, by approving the proposed citywide rezoning to a base residential district of R-CG, R-G, or H-GO to enable the creation of more housing, boost affordability, and alleviate the unsustainable pressure on Calgary’s homeless-serving organizations.

Read the full policy analysis in our Rezoning for Affordability Policy Paper.


Calgary is in a housing crisis:


We don’t have enough homes in our city

Calgary is facing a shortage of housing all along the housing continuum. Over the last few years, housing demand in Calgary has surged, and our housing supply has failed to keep up. This supply and demand imbalance leads not only to escalated rental costs but also a growing population of individuals who face housing exclusion due to their inability to compete for available housing units. While some of those unable to compete resort to cohabiting with roommates, friends, or family, there exists a subset of people without such alternatives. This phenomenon significantly impacts the entire housing continuum; for example, individuals who previously could afford a two-bedroom dwelling may now pool their incomes to share a single-bedroom unit, displacing those with sole incomes who subsequently seek affordable housing. We can see evidence of this in Calgary, as we have seen a sharp increase in applications for affordable housing units. When housing remains inaccessible at any point along this continuum, it is consistently the most marginalized who bear the brunt of the consequences.

At the DI we experience the housing shortage both in terms of the increasing number of people accessing our shelter for the first time and in terms of the difficulty of getting (market and non-market) housing placements to help people move out of shelter. This combination of more people needing our services and fewer people moving on from requiring our support is an unsustainable situation for our organization.


We need to stop putting up barriers to creating new homes

That’s why we are urging Calgary’s City Council to follow through on Home is Here: The City of Calgary’s Housing Strategy, by approving the proposed citywide rezoning to a base residential district of R-CG, R-G, or H-GO to enable the creation of more housing.

The purpose of this rezoning is to allow for more housing to be built in our city – particularly row houses, laneway homes, and basement suites. Adding more housing supply will help ease our crisis. Each additional housing unit built in our city reduces the number of people competing against each other for already existing homes. The more supply gets built, the closer we get to a scenario where sellers must lower prices to compete against each other for buyers, and landlords may have to lower rents to compete against each other for tenants. This effect exists regardless of the price/rent of new housing supply because the buyer/tenant of the new housing removes themselves from competing with others for the existing housing in the market. Studies indicate that a mere 1% increase in overall housing supply can lead to an average rent decrease of 10%-30%.


This crisis requires many solutions

This rezoning proposal is not the silver bullet that will solve the housing crisis, but it is a strong step in the right direction. We still need massive investments in our non-market housing supply, and specific affordable housing units to cater to the needs of those who may need to smudge indoors, or have pets, or may have mobility needs. There is much work to be done, but we need to be using every tool in our toolbox to solve this crisis, including rezoning.


We need your help

If you want to learn more about the link between zoning, supply, and affordability, please read our Rezoning for Affordability Policy Paper.

On April 22nd, Calgary City Council is holding a public hearing to debate this rezoning proposal. Please follow this link to tell our city council to vote yes on this approval to ensure we have enough homes to uphold every Calgarian’s right to housing!