The pandemic has underscored the importance of having a safe place to call home. Shelters are at full capacity. People are living temporarily in vacant buildings. It became apparent early in the pandemic that there was an urgent need for affordable housing.
We knew that we had to respond to the call. We needed a viable, robust and flexible solution that we could quickly implement — one that would ensure the sanctuary of a home for those who need it most.
In consultation with the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, we swiftly created and launched the Rapid Housing Initiative in the fall of 2020. Compared to an initial target of 3,000 units, the Rapid Housing Initiative will create close to 4,800 new permanent affordable housing units for the most vulnerable in our society, including women with children, Indigenous peoples and Black Canadians who are homeless or at a high risk of homelessness.
We worked closely with local governments to understand their needs, design the program and arrange the rapid delivery. We streamlined and accelerated our processes — and we asked cities and applicants to do the same.
All levels of government — including Indigenous governing bodies — contributed to the success of this initiative:
- The federal government provided capital contributions.
- Provincial and territorial governments provided operating funds and, in some cases, additional capital contributions.
- Municipal governments facilitated accelerated approvals processes.
- Indigenous governments pursued projects to best address their community’s needs.
Housing projects will be delivered within 12 months of signed agreements. To achieve this, the program focuses on:
- conversion of non-residential buildings
- new modular construction
- rehabilitation of existing residential buildings that are in disrepair or abandoned
We are determined to continue helping those in housing need by working together and doing things differently. Urgent housing delivered in just months is one example of this.