For the past 35 years, Right at Home Housing Society has provided safe, affordable homes for low-income individuals and families. As a community-based, not-for-profit housing provider, they began out of necessity.
“When we started 35 years ago, it was some concerned citizens in the neighbourhood here that were very concerned about absentee landlords and the rent generating substandard rooming houses,” said Cam McDonald, executive director of the organization.
When they began in the early 1980s, people were being discharged into the community from Alberta Hospital without much support.
“The neighbourhood found that there were a lot of homeless people, people that were mentally ill with no support, and that they needed housing. And that it wasn’t right that they went into some substandard rooming house that was a fire trap,” explained McDonald. “They were vulnerable people that could be exploited and taken advantage of.”
So, they did something about it. It started with one house. Now they have about 25 properties located primarily in north central Edmonton.
“Of those 25 properties, it’s about 490 units housing more than a thousand people. We don’t really label our housing, so if you’re driving around in the neighbourhood, and you drive by, you really wouldn’t know that it’s ours,” said McDonald. They do so to help their tenants feel at home in their community.
The homes they provide are newer.
“Whenever we can, we build new. If it’s something that has been sitting vacant for a long time, that’s a spot for us to come in and do small infill townhomes,” McDonald said. They build fourplexes, duplexes, and apartments to suit the neighbourhood.
Prospective tenants must meet certain qualifications. McDonald explained that a lot of the housing they build is enabled by government funding agreements, so there’s an income level threshold. They follow the Core Need Income Threshold, provided by the Government of Alberta. The income threshold for a bachelor unit is $35,000 and it goes up to $71,500 for a home with four bedrooms or more.
But, that doesn’t mean tenants must keep earning less than the income threshold to remain tenants.
“We pride ourselves in providing permanent homes for people. So, we don’t put time limits on how long they can stay,” said McDonald.
In fact, they offer employment opportunities to their tenants, such as helping with suite refurbishment, landscaping, painting, and grounds work, all of which gives tenants a boost in their income and quality of life.
Those few tenants who end up making more than the income threshold would not be asked to move, but simply pay the market rate.
“That creates stability, not only in the building, but it creates stability with the tenant. It’s a win-win,” explained McDonald.
Rent is determined based on housing. “In some of our housing, we do rent geared to income. In that case you could have a very, very low income, and then we charge 30 per cent of that. In others, we charge 65 per cent of market,” McDonald said. They also have some places that are classified as low-end of market, which are available to anybody.
To apply for housing, visit the Right at Home Housing Society and complete an application. For more information, visit rightathomehousing.com.
RIGHT AT HOME HOUSING SOCIETY
9430 111 Ave
Featured Image: Cam McDonald, executive director of Right at Home Housing Society, stands by a new property at 112 Ave and 94 St. | Stephen Strand