If you live in the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo (RMWB) you have most likely heard of Wood Buffalo Housing (WBH). WBH was established in 2001 as a not-for-profit, arm’s length Part 9 subsidiary of the RMWB, with a mandate to provide affordable housing for the people of our region.
Since we are a Part 9, our assets are municipal assets. WBH has a number of different housing programs that we manage in the region.
Affordable Housing Program – 90% of portfolio
This program makes up the largest part of WBH’s portfolio, with approximately 1,200 housing units that are required to be at least 10% below market rental rates. WBH has 1-, 2-, and 3-bedroom apartments, condo-style townhouses, and 3- and 4-bedroom townhouses. All units are pet-friendly and available for anyone to apply.
WBH does not receive operational funding to manage units in this program from any level of government. The rent charged needs to be sufficient to cover expenses. This is the program where we have a vacancy.
Community Housing and Seniors Self-Contained – 10% of portfolio
In 2002, the Province designated WBH as the provincial housing management body for the region (replacing Fort McMurray Housing Authority) to manage community housing and seniors’ self-contained units. These units are subsidized by the government, which means tenants pay 30% of their total income toward rent and the province pays the balance.
There are a limited number of community housing units, and not enough to meet the demand for our region. This is the program where we currently have a waitlist. WBH, with help from Council, has been lobbying the province for years to increase Rent Supplement funding or to add more community housing in both the urban and rural communities.
In the urban area, community housing units are located in Beacon Hill, Thickwood and downtown. Except for two family units in Fort Chipewyan and one in Anzac, there is no other provincially funded (community) housing in our rural communities.
The seniors’ self-contained properties are located in the downtown area, Anzac and Fort Chipewyan as follows:
- Legion Manor and Araubasca House – located downtown, these are one-bedroom apartments in two buildings with 12-units and 18-units respectively.
- Woodsmoke Elders Lodge – located in Anzac, there are four one-bedroom mobile homes.
- Ayabaskaw Home – located in Fort Chipewyan, this property features 10 self-contained, individual, one-bedroom apartments.
WBH manages the one supportive-living seniors’ lodge in the region on behalf of the province. Rent is calculated at 30% of the applicant(s) gross income. Rotary House Lodge, a 39-bed property, is funded through municipal property taxes. This property offers seniors independent living with some supports like meals, snacks, weekly light housekeeping and in-house recreation as part of the residents’ monthly service fee. There is currently vacancy at this property. Search ‘Rotary House Seniors Lodge’ on YouTube for more information.
Rent Supplement Program
WBH also manages the Rent Supplement Program on behalf of the province. There are two benefits people can apply for under this program:
- Rent Assistance Benefit (RAB), a long-term benefit that subsidizes Albertans with lower incomes. Priority is based on households in the highest need.
- Temporary Rent Assistance Benefit (TRAB) provides a modest subsidy to help eligible recipients afford their rent while they stabilize or improve their situation. Priority is based on first-come, first-serve.
- Applicants for the RAB and TRAB do not have to be tenants with WBH. The subsidy can be used on any rental in the region.
WBH is also committed to supporting social profits in this community, and collaborating with community stakeholders:
- Centre of Hope (CoH) leases our building on a cost-recovery basis.
- Captain’s Place, is a group home for men experiencing independent living under the guidance of an on-site mentor.
- David’s Place and Carla’s Place, a permanent supportive living which has recently relocated to the Centre of Hope leased building.
- WJS Canada Youth Group Home, a group home for marginalized youth, struggling families and people with developmental disabilities.
- McMan Youth, Family and Community Services Association, a group home for foster children.
- Salvation Army Start Program, provides support for adults with disabilities.
- Support Through Housing Team (STHT), safe, affordable, subsidized housing for hard-to-house individuals.
- We purchased the Wood Buffalo Food Bank property for them and leased it at a fair market rate, up until they purchased another property in the end of 2020.
- We rent space in Fort Chipewyan to Athabasca Tribal Council to support providing culturally specific programs in the community.
- WBH has MOUs with the Fort Chipewyan Métis, the Fort McKay Métis, and the Conklin Resource and Development Advisory Committee (CRDAC) to address the affordable housing needs in those communities. In the past couple of years we have also been working closely with the community of Janvier to address their housing needs.
If you or anyone you know is looking for affordable housing or wishes to speak to someone about one of the provincially subsidized programs or benefits, please call 780-799-4050 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. If you would like more information on our seniors’ housing, please call 780-791-1160 to schedule a tour.
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