The federal government has announced $10 million in funding for the BlackNorth Homeownership Bridge Program, which will help provide 200 affordable homes in the GTA for as many black families buying their first homes.

The announcement was made at the National Housing Summit, and according to a news release, BlackNorth Initiative is leading the program, which falls under the Shared Equity Mortgage Provider (SEMP) fund and will be realized over the next four years, in partnership with Habitat for Humanity Toronto.

BlackNorth says the initiative is timely in light of the COVID-19 pandemic’s exacerbation of problems pertaining to housing affordability inequity, and especially for those who face a unique set of problems that makes homeownership difficult to attain.

"The COVID-19 crisis has made it clear that affordable housing is key to Canada's recovery, as communities across the country are dealing with the devastating impacts of rising levels of homelessness and housing need,” Wes Hall, Executive Chairman and Founder of BlackNorth Initiative, said in the release. “About 88,000 Black households are in core housing need. We need to focus first and foremost on the most vulnerable of our fellow Canadians, including those who face unique challenges. Investment in the BlackNorth Initiative Homeownership Bridging Program highlights the Government of Canada's commitment to both anti-racism initiatives and finding pathways to homeownership." 

The federal government and Habitat for Humanity jointly contributed $40 million for the program, while the SEMP will lend upwards of $100 million over half a decade, having begun in 2019.

The program also meets the objectives of the Trudeau government’s National Housing Strategy.

The shared equity mortgage structure has similarities to the First-Time Home Buyer Incentive in which the federal government takes a 5% or 10% equity stake in the home purchased. Shared equity mortgages cut eligible purchasers’ monthly mortgage payments without having to secure a larger down payment, but it typically forgoes monthly payments in lieu of repayment, as well as a percentage of the agreed upon appreciation, upon sale.

As of this year, five agreements worth $17 million had been signed through SEMP to create more than 700 new homeownership units, according to the release.