Canada announces support for rapid housing in Vancouver
VANCOUVER - Every Canadian deserves a safe and affordable place to call home. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has increased the need for affordable housing and led to rising levels of homelessness. The Government of Canada created a national strategy to build hundreds of thousands of units and provide affordable housing to people across the country. By continuing to make investments in affordable housing, the federal, provincial, and municipal governments are working together to build stronger communities, create jobs, and grow our middle class, while reducing homelessness and helping vulnerable Canadians.
Today, the Honourable Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Housing and Diversity and Inclusion, along with the Honourable Harjit Sajjan, Minister of International Development and Minister responsible for the Pacific Economic Development Agency of Canada and Member of Parliament for Vancouver South, the Honourable Hedy Fry, Member of Parliament for Vancouver Centre, Taleeb Noormohamed, Member of Parliament for Vancouver Granville, and Kennedy Stewart, Mayor of Vancouver, announced details of a $31.8 million federal allocation to support two projects designed to create 88 new affordable homes for individuals and families in Vancouver through the Cities Stream under the expanded Rapid Housing Initiative (RHI). The B.C. government will support the new housing with annual operating funding.
The first project, located at 162 Main St., will provide 68 homes, while the second project, located at 545 E Cordova St., will provide 20 homes. Both projects are located in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside and will prioritize Indigenous Peoples and women and children, and will also serve the LGBTQ2+ community and those at risk of homelessness.
Lookout Housing and Health Society will operate the project at 545 E Cordova St. BC Housing will work with the City of Vancouver to select an experienced non-profit operator for the project at 162 Main St. Both projects are expected to begin construction in the coming weeks and be ready for occupancy by December 2022.
This is in addition to the Government of Canada’s previous investment of $51.5 million through the Major Cities Stream of the first phase of the RHI to support the creation of up to 135 new affordable homes in Vancouver.
In its initial round, with funding of $1 billion announced in October 2020, the RHI exceeded its original target of 3,000 permanent affordable housing units and achieved 4,700 units nationally. Due to this success, an additional $1.5 billion for the RHI was recently announced to create 4,500 new units of permanent affordable housing across the country. Thanks to this expansion, this initiative will now create over 9,200 affordable homes for the most vulnerable Canadians across the country.
This new investment will create thousands of good jobs in the housing and construction sector, grow the middle class, and build back stronger communities, while getting us closer to our goal of eliminating chronic homelessness in Canada.
The Honourable Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Housing and Diversity and Inclusion -
“Every Canadian deserves a safe and affordable place to call home. Today's funding through the Rapid Housing Initiative will go a long way to support those who need it most by quickly providing 88 new affordable homes for Vancouver’s most vulnerable populations, to keep them safe. This is one of the ways our National Housing Strategy continues to ensure no one is left behind.”
The Honourable Harjit Sajjan, Member of Parliament for Vancouver South and Minister of National Defence -
“We know that everyone in British Columbia, and across Canada, deserves adequate and affordable housing. Today, our government’s expansion of the Rapid Housing Initiative is helping Vancouver increase its supply of new affordable homes for our most vulnerable populations. When these projects are complete, they will offer new homes for Indigenous Peoples and women and children, and will also serve the LGBTQ2+ community and those at risk of homelessness.”
Taleeb Noormohamed, Member of Parliament for Vancouver Granville -
“Every Canadian deserves a safe and affordable place to call home. This investment into improving affordable housing in our city is facilitating real change for those that need it most. These projects are a result of great partnerships, coming together to respond to a grave housing need in Vancouver. This is the Rapid Housing Initiative at work.”
The Honourable Hedy Fry, Member of Parliament for Vancouver Centre -
“Creating housing rapidly to address BC’s housing crisis is a priority for our Government. This funding is part of our commitment to addressing severe housing needs, both here in the Downtown Eastside, and across the country. It will provide immediate support to create safe and stable housing to thousands of vulnerable individuals and families.”
Melanie Mark, MLA for Vancouver – Mount Pleasant -
“These much-needed projects will make a significant difference in the community, providing nearly 80 homes for a range of people struggling to find affordable housing as part of our government’s strategy to tackle the housing crisis by delivering 114,000 affordable homes over 10 years. We will continue to work with all levels of government and our community partners to make sure more people in Vancouver have a safe and secure place to call home.”
Kennedy Stewart, Mayor of Vancouver -
“These 88 new affordable rentals are the latest in thousands of homes approved and underway that are helping build a Vancouver that works for all of us. Thanks to our ongoing housing partnership with the Governments of Canada and B.C., hundreds of our neighbours and their families have a renewed sense of hope that can only come from a safe and affordable place to call home.”
Shayne Williams, CEO, Lookout Housing and Health Society -
“Lookout is very pleased that our proposed housing project at 545 East Cordova has received federal funding from the Rapid Housing Initiative through the Cities Stream. The project will convert an empty lot into 20 units of safe, affordable housing for local individuals seeking greater independence within a supportive environment. We are grateful the federal, municipal and provincial governments in making this project a reality.”
- The RHI is delivered by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), under the National Housing Strategy (NHS).
- Canada’s NHS is an ambitious, 10-year plan that will invest over $72 billion to give more Canadians a place to call home. Launched in 2017, the NHS will build and repair thousands of housing units, and help households with affordability support.
- Since 2017, the B.C. government has been aggressively working to tackle the housing crisis and deliver affordable homes, including the largest investment in housing affordability in B.C.'s history.
- Through a $7-billion housing plan launched in 2018, the provincial government is working with partners to deliver 114,000 affordable homes over 10 years. The plan has also introduced new measures aimed at curbing speculative demand that has driven up the cost of living.
- The RHI is a $1 billion program launched in October 2020 to help address urgent housing needs of vulnerable Canadians, especially in the context of COVID-19, through the rapid construction of affordable housing.
- Due to this success, an additional $1.5 billion for the Rapid Housing Initiative (RHI) was recently announced through Budget 2021 with $500 million in funding under the Cities Stream being allocated to the following municipalities: Burnaby, Calgary, Capital Regional District, Durham, Edmonton, Gatineau, Greater Sudbury, Halifax, Hamilton, Iqaluit, Kingston, Laval, London, Longueil, Montreal, Niagara, Ottawa, Peel, Quebec, Regina, Saskatoon, Surrey, St. John’s, Toronto, Vancouver, Waterloo, Whitehorse, Windsor, Winnipeg, and Yellowknife. Under the Projects Stream: $1 billion will be allocated to eligible applications submitted during the RHI’s initial application period last fall and having not yet received funding.
- Based on feedback from stakeholders, CMHC has introduced new flexibilities to the RHI:
- Program applicants will be eligible to receive funding for additional forms of new construction beyond modular, if units can be built within 12 months.
- Non-profits will now have an opportunity to demonstrate that they have the financial capacity to support the viability of units without government subsidy (self-funded).
- Cities will have a longer time to submit projects (60 days instead of 30).
- Project delivery timelines have been adjusted for projects located in the North and special access communities.
- At least 25 per cent of this new funding will go toward women-focused housing projects. The units will be built within 12 months of when funding is provided to program applicants.
- The RHI will continue to prioritize proposals that target units serving Indigenous peoples and other vulnerable groups. It will also continue to provide flexibilities on timelines to Indigenous governing bodies or organizations as needed.
- The RHI takes a human rights-based approach to housing, serving people experiencing or at risk of homelessness and other vulnerable people under the NHS, including: women and children fleeing domestic violence, seniors, young adults, Indigenous peoples, people with disabilities, people experiencing mental health and addiction issues, veterans, LGBTQ2 individuals, racialized and Black Canadians, and recent immigrants or refugees.
- CMHC supports the government’s efforts to improve the well-being of Canadians facing housing and homelessness challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
To learn about the steps the Province is taking to tackle the housing crisis and deliver affordable homes for British Columbians, visit: https://workingforyou.gov.bc.ca/
Office of the Minister of Housing and Diversity and Inclusion
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
Ministry of Attorney General and Responsible for Housing