The Trudeau government announced the launch of the Rapid Housing Initiative (RHI), a $1 billion investment that will create up to 3,000 new permanent, affordable housing units across the country.
Prime Minister Trudeau announced the new national housing plan on Tuesday, saying $500 million will “immediately” be going to 15 Canadian cities.
This comes as the number of Canadians experiencing homelessness amid the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic has become a concern.
The RHI will quickly develop new modular multi-unit rentals, convert non-residential buildings into affordable multi-residential homes, and rehabilitate buildings that are abandoned or in disrepair into affordable multi-residential homes. Costs to purchase land and buildings will also be eligible under the new initiative, according to the federal government.
“No Canadian should ever be without a place to call home. By making smart and substantial investments in affordable housing and providing funding directly to municipalities, we’re creating jobs, strengthening our communities across the country, and helping the most vulnerable,” said Prime Minister Trudeau.
Funding for the Rapid Housing Initiative will be equally divided into two streams, and will work to eliminate chronic homelessness in Canada, Trudeau said. The two streams include the "major cities stream" and the "projects stream."
Trudeau said $500 million will be equally split between the “major cities stream,” which includes municipalities that have the highest level of renters and the largest amount of homelessness.
The major cities include Quebec City, London, Hamilton, Region of Waterloo, Halifax, Calgary, Region of Peel, Montreal, Winnipeg, Surrey, Edmonton, Ottawa, Vancouver, Toronto, and Capital Regional District (British Columbia).
Canada’s biggest city, Toronto, will get the largest share of that funding and will receive about $203 million.
"This support is a very good start," said Mayor John Tory. "...it shows the importance of continued cooperation between all governments to address homelessness and I am determined to continue that cooperation in order to tackle chronic homelessness."
"As the country's largest city by far, Toronto also has an affordable housing/homelessness challenge that is by far the biggest in the country," Tory said.
The funds will be distributed within the next few days, said Ahmed Hussen, the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development.
The remaining $500 million will be used for the Projects Stream which will go toward projects based on applications from provinces, territories, municipalities, Indigenous governing bodies, and organizations and non-profit organizations. Applications will be accepted starting today and until December 31, 2020. Each application will be reviewed within 30 days of submission to speed up development.