2021 Budget support for affordable housing

May 13, 2021 | Katrina Kairys

This article outlines the proposed funding in Canada’s 2021 Budget for affordable housing initiatives. With market prices skyrocketing while the employment rate plummets, Canada’s housing crisis is deepening amid the COVID-19 pandemic.  The rising housing costs coupled with decreased job opportunities increases social inequality and has a devastating impact on the country’s most vulnerable populations.

In response to the “COVID-19 recession” the 2021 Budget commits to investing $2.5 billion and reallocating $1.3 billion in existing funding to speed up the construction and repair of affordable housing units.

The government proposes to invest $1.5 billion in 2021-22 for the “Rapid Housing Initiative”, adding a minimum of 4,500 new affordable units. The first round of funding for this program provided capital contributions through funding agreements with Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation and was administered in two streams. The “Projects Stream” was open to application by Indigenous governing bodies and organizations and non-profit organizations.  The complete details of the next round of funding have yet to be released.

The 2021 Budget commits $600 million between 2021-28 to renew and expand the “Affordable Housing Innovation Fund” (the “Fund”), encouraging innovation in funding and construction. This additional funding will support the creation of up to 12,700 more units. The Fund’s scope of eligible projects includes affordable homeownership, retrofit models and affordable rental projects. The initial Fund, launched in 2016, was open to non-profit housing providers including community housing organizations, among others. Applications for 2021 are not yet available.

$118.2 million in proposed funding for the “Federal Community Housing Initiative” will help provide long-term housing to vulnerable populations. Under this program, housing providers can apply for rental support or for transitional funding to cover eligible operating costs for up to 24 months following the expiration of past federal agreements.

Other affordable housing funding in the 2021 Budget includes:

  • $315.4 million between 2021-28 in direct rent assistance for low income women and children fleeing violence;
  • Reallocating $1.3 billion of previously announced funding into several different housing initiatives;
  • $567 million between 2021-23 for Employment and Social Development Canada to fight homelessness; and
  • $45 million between 2021-23 for housing, counselling, and other services to homeless veterans.

The 2021 Budget proposes a significant investment in affordable housing and ancillary programs, with non-profits receiving a substantial portion. Non-profit housing providers are integral to Canada’s social housing system and its long-term sustainability. The proposed funding for affordable housing is critical for seniors, Indigenous peoples, those living with disabilities, and other populations that benefit from the targeted assistance supplied by non-profit housing providers.

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