AHLA: Using hotels to address homelessness

Dave Kaiser, president and CEO, Alberta Hotel & Lodging Association.

EDMONTON — Edmonton and Calgary are considering the use of distressed hotels to address the issue of homelessness.

The Government of Canada’s Rapid Housing Initiative (RHI) would support the conversion of hotel properties to affordable housing. The AHLA is working with the provincial government to support the property conversions of interested members.

Dave Kaiser, president and CEO of the AHLA, has sent a letter of support for this strategy to Alberta Premier Jason Kenney. The letter reads as follows:

“On behalf of the Alberta Hotel & Lodging Association, which represents 170 hotels in Edmonton and Calgary, I am writing to support the plans of Alberta’s two largest cities to address the crisis in homelessness caused by the global pandemic and depressed global oil prices. With winter fast approaching, the Government of Canada’s September 21 announcement of funding for rapid housing is an important first step in addressing this crisis. 

“Alberta’s hotel industry has been decimated by the impacts of COVID-19 and the severe downturn in Alberta’s oil and gas industry. Edmonton and Calgary’s hotel sectors have been hit particularly hard, resulting in an oversupply of guest rooms for the foreseeable future. The cities’ plans to repurpose surplus hotel units into housing for vulnerable Albertans is a win-win strategy that addresses the urgent need for affordable supportive housing and contributes to the recovery of the hotel sector. 

“We appreciate the tremendous efforts your government has made to keep Albertans safe during the pandemic and to restart the provincial economy. A strategic investment by all orders of government in permanent supportive housing will provide savings and efficiencies for health, justice and law enforcement. The AHLA is pleased to support the cities of Calgary and Edmonton in their efforts to house our province’s most vulnerable individuals.”