Increasing ‘Hidden Homelessness’ in Calgary Raises Concerns

Advocates have reported a rise in “hidden homelessness” in Calgary, with stories of overcrowding in housing, people sleeping in cars, and families living in vans. The affordability crisis in the city is becoming more apparent, with nearly one in five households unable to afford lodging, according to the latest Housing Needs Assessment. The assessment also reveals that a single detached home in Calgary requires an income of $156,000 to avoid spending more than 30% of earnings on housing. Over the past three years, the median price of a single detached home has increased by 37%, and the required annual income for renting has risen from $67,000 to $84,000. Housing challenges in the city are not only financial but also influenced by availability.

Anti-poverty advocates stress that if the housing shortage is not addressed, the situation will worsen. Last year, the Calgary Homeless Foundation’s count was 2,782, but there is likely an under-reporting of the issue. Hidden homelessness, characterized by overcrowding and people sleeping in cars, is a significant concern, especially for children. Alberta has the highest level of “financialization” of real estate in the country, which limits the availability of below-market lodging.

Bernadette Majdell, COO of the HomeSpace Society, predicts that Calgary’s homelessness problem will worsen as individuals are forced to choose between basic necessities and housing. High levels of inflation and increases in utility costs and interest rates have contributed to the unaffordability crisis. Urgent action is needed to address these pressing issues and provide affordable housing solutions for the residents of Calgary.