The opening of a new affordable housing development in Crescent Heights was celebrated Wednesday, but officials say there's a desperate need for more buildings like it in Calgary.  

The 16-unit building is the city's first affordable housing project to open in the last five years. It will be managed by Calgary Housing Company, a city-owned corporation.

Sarah Woodgate, director of Calgary Housing and president of the Calgary Housing Company, said the new project is a mixed model, meaning people with a variety of income levels will call the building home.

Some families will pay as little as $350 a month, while other tenants will pay 90 per cent of the market rate. That setup provides a sustainable operating model, Woodgate said.   

'Challenges in the system'

affordable housing crescent heights

Officials on hand at the opening included Ward 7 Councillor Druh Farrell, MLA Sandra Jansen, Sarah Woodgate, director of Calgary Housing and president of the Calgary Housing Company, and mayor Naheed Nenshi. (Justin Pennell/CBC)

Speaking at the building's opening, Mayor Naheed Nenshi said much work remains to be done as the waiting list for Calgary Housing numbers 4,000 households.

"This is the first affordable housing development that we've cut a ribbon on in five years, which says a lot about the system, about challenges in the system, and about what we're doing in order to fix it," Nenshi said.

"Building affordable housing is vital to creating strong communities. We know there is a desperate need in our community to do this and we have to be able to supply that."

Nenshi commended the community of Crescent Heights for its "extraordinary and thoughtful" work on integrating affordable housing into its community, calling it a model for the entire city.  

Calgary MLA Sandra Jansen said the development shows "there is nothing to be afraid of in welcoming these kinds of units into your community."

Construction underway on more projects

The three-storey multi-residential building at 210 15th Ave. N.E. contains four studio units, four one-bedroom units, four two-bedroom units and four three-bedroom units. Two units are barrier free and one is built to accommodate visually-impaired people.

Woodgate said more than 100 new affordable homes are in progress in Calgary, including a development in Kingsland expected to open later this summer and a project in Bridgeland. Construction has started on an affordable housing development in Wildwood, and a project in Rosedale is in the design phase.

Funding for the Crescent Heights development was provided by a $2.1-million grant from the provincial government and $1.4 million in municipal funding.

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