Affordable Housing Initiative
Under the Affordable Housing Initiative (AHI), the federal government, through Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, provides contributions to increase the supply of off- reserve affordable housing, in partnership with provinces and territories.
In July 2011, federal, provincial and territorial ministers responsible for housing announced a combined $1.4 billion investment under an new Affordable Housing Framework 2011 – 2014. Federal funding under the Framework relates to the final three years of the federal government’s five year commitment in 2008 of $1.9 billion for housing and homelessness.
As a result of the Framework, existing delivery arrangements for the AHI will continue in Prince Edward Island, and Yukon Territory.
New agreements for investment in affordable housing have been announced in all of the remaining jurisdictions.
Affordable Housing Initiative — Background
In November 2001, a multilateral housing framework was agreed to by federal, provincial and territorial housing Ministers which established the broad parameters for bilateral Affordable Housing Program Agreements. Agreements were signed with each province and territory.
Under the bilateral agreements, the provinces and territories cost-match the federal investment. This funding may come from the province or territory and from other parties (e.g. municipalities, private sector, donations etc.). These contributions can be a grant, a stream of ongoing subsidies or the value of in-kind contributions (e.g. land). The share of the federal funding available in each province or territory, as well as the overall terms and conditions that must be met is set out in the bilateral agreements. Within these terms and conditions, each provincial or territorial housing agency has designed its own housing program and is responsible for program delivery, including the selection of housing projects that receive AHI funding.
The first of the AHI's two phases was announced in 2001 and provides $680 million in funding for the creation of new rental housing, major renovation and conversion. Project proponents are found within the non-profit sector, private or public sector (e.g. municipal non-profit housing corporations). Homeownership is eligible in remote areas and in urban redevelopment areas, subject to a maximum funding amount. The units produced under the AHI must rent at prices at or below median market rents. Under phase one, the average amount of federal funding may not exceed $25,000 per housing unit.
The second phase of the AHI, announced in 2003, includes a federal commitment of $320 million to provide additional funding for housing targeted to low-income households in communities where there is a significant need for affordable housing. To be considered "low income" a household must be qualified to be on a social housing waiting list. Provinces and territories are encouraged to consider Aboriginal people, persons with disabilities and recent immigrants as priorities. Under the second phase, the maximum federal funding is 50 per cent of capital costs to a maximum of $75,000 per housing unit to reduce rents to levels affordable to low -income households.
In 2004/05, new program flexibilities under the AHI were introduced in the areas of home ownership programs, targeting of AHI-funded programs, cost-sharing arrangements and provision of rent supplements.
In September 2008, the Government of Canada announced $1.9 billion, over five years, for housing and homelessness programs for low-income Canadians. As part of this investment, the AHI was extended for two years, until March 31, 2011.