Key questions about the initiative
Q. Don’t affordable housing projects of this size, such as St. James Town and Regent Park in Toronto, fail miserably?
A. Public skepticism regarding affordable housing developments originates from projects that were built generations ago. The Mustard Seed's affordable housing initiative has benefited from an examination of critical factors that were not well documented or widely known in the 1940s, ‘50s or ‘60s. The Mustard Seed's planning team has conducted critical studies of a number of comparable developments located throughout North America. Our affordable housing initiative is designed for success.
Q. Don’t affordable housing projects of this size negatively affect the area in which they are located and the people who live there?
A. Any badly conceived or poorly managed apartment building can create all sorts of negative issues for those who live in or near it. The Mustard Seed has real-world experience in providing supportive housing for those recovering from homelessness, and has applied this experience in developing its "Housing Plus" process. Experience in cities like Portland, Oregon clearly demonstrates that creating a community (as opposed to “building an institution”) is key to recovery from any number of challenges – including homelessness.
Q. Why doesn’t the Mustard Seed scatter a number of housing developments around the city?
A. The Mustard Seed's affordable housing initiative is only the first stage in our mission to help achieve the vision of Calgary's 10-Year Plan to End Homelessness. As other opportunities arise to spread our "Housing Plus" philosophy to other communities within Calgary and across Alberta, The Mustard Seed will respond as we always have – with care and compassion.
Q. Why are there so many small units?
A. Single men and women recovering from homelessness are most in need of permanent housing in Calgary. Single-room or studio accommodations are common in affordable housing projects located in the downtown core of other cities. For example: the City of Vancouver has recently produced more than 280 studio-style apartments on three downtown sites; the City of Portland has encouraged development of more than 800 single-room or studio-type accommodations to house low-income and/or previously homeless individuals. Calgary’s city centre has lost hundreds of units of boarding-house rooms due to redevelopment within the past five years. Fully self-contained studio apartments meet the most pressing need in Calgary at this time.
Q. Is excellence in affordable housing sustainable?
A. The Mustard Seed is dedicated to success for those men and women strongly committed to escaping life on the streets. Our research, and in-depth consultation with our neighbours, will help us expand our influence and effectiveness. The community, working together, will make this a place of change all Calgarians can be proud of.
Q. How has this proposal been received in the community and by the experts?
A. The Mustard Seed has worked diligently with our community for 2 1/2 years to develop a plan that will work for the Beltline, and for all Calgarians. Our list of supporters grows day by day.