Solutions Labs provides funding and expert solution lab consultants to help solve complex housing problems using innovation methods and tools. Teams with diverse experience and knowledge will outline and identify: 

  • The housing problem they wish to examine in the lab 
  • Their strategy to co-develop and test possible solutions 
  • A roadmap that communicates a clear path for solution uptake and replication 

The goal is to develop world-leading solutions to housing problems that can contribute to the National Housing Strategy’s key priority areas.

Annual funding for solutions labs is up to a maximum of $3 million.
Funding for successful projects will range from $25,000 to $250,000
for a range of 8 to 12 projects each year.


Solutions Labs provides funding that allow housing stakeholders across Canada to co-develop solutions to challenges in housing like:

  • affordability 
  • social inclusion 
  • northern and remote supports 
  • Indigenous housing 
  • environmental sustainability 

The program requires applicants to seek out and partner with experts in the design and implementation of solutions labs on their team. The teams are made up of diverse stakeholders—including those with lived experience and expert innovation consultants.  

Together, they will problem-solve using an innovation lens and the tools and methodologies that have emerged from social innovation labs. 

The team will use an inclusive process. This fosters a ‘ground up’ approach to understanding and addressing key barriers to solving complex and persistent affordable housing problems. They will: 

  • examine and reframe current housing issues 
  • use innovative problem-solving processes  
  • co-develop potential solutions to be prototyped and tested  

The teams in the labs will lead to the development of solutions to identified housing issues within the National Housing Strategy’s key priority areas. Potential solutions may include: 

  • emerging technologies 
  • best practices 
  • innovative policies 
  • programs 

Solutions Labs will be a catalyst for driving action and innovation in the affordable housing sector. It enables opportunities to enhance sector viability and sustainability by providing roadmaps from successful solution development to full-scale uptakes. 


Solutions Labs will be funded through an annual open-call process. CMHC’s annual budget available for Solutions Labs is up to $3 million.

CMHC will support Solutions Labs ranging in duration from 1-3 days lab sprints to longer term labs of up to 18 months. We anticipate that budgets for each Solutions Lab will range from $25,000 to $250,000. This translates in funding 8 to 12 projects each year.

Funding is based on a competitive merit-based process where proposals will be reviewed, scored and ranked using expert subject matter evaluators.

Eligible expenses include:

  • background research, ethnographic studies and interviews
  • social media and graphic design for use in Solutions Labs projects
  • Solutions Labs consultant fees, event planning, co-ordination and facilitation
  • knowledge transfer during and after Solutions Labs events including videos, web content, research reports, documentation of project activities, innovation deployment strategies
  • stakeholder participation, accommodation, transportation and expert per diems

All Solutions Labs project teams must include a Solution Lab Consultant. Eligible applicants include:

  • affordable housing providers
  • academic institutions
  • government agencies
  • Indigenous organizations
  • agencies and Non-Governmental Organizations involved in the Strategy’s key National Housing Strategy’s priority area activities
  • individuals with lived experiences that can provide first hand expertise to co-development of solutions
  • private sector stakeholders (including builders, developers, designers and planners)

Proponents will receive funding from CMHC to work with leading affordable housing stakeholders and Solutions Lab Consultants to address key challenges.


Solutions Labs funding will be available for labs that take place in Canada and that focus on:

  • resolving affordable housing challenges within the Strategy’s key priority areas or facing priority populations
  • gathering a wide range of stakeholders including those with lived experiences to find solutions that are practical replicable, implementable, and deliverable within a realistic timeframe
  • targeting the creation of solutions such as technologies, policies, programs, or standards

Recipients of Solutions Lab funding will report their activities. This will include:

  • pre-lab exploratory research 
  • lab activities
  • lab participants
  • prototypical solutions developed and tested
  • road map development of next steps from prototype to wide scale uptake

CMHC will assess lab participant perceptions of the:

  • experience and awareness
  • knowledge and potential uptake of the solutions developed
  • what happened to the solutions developed in the lab


Solutions Lab funding applications go through a merit-based competitive process.  

An evaluation committee made up of subject matter experts from the affordable housing sector will evaluate all eligible applications using pre-established evaluation criteria and scoring scale.

Applications that score higher than 80% will be considered for funding based on budget availability.

The proposals will be evaluated and prioritized based on several criteria:

  • the Solutions Lab teams and partners  
  • the work plan and proposed solution lab approach, innovation tools and methodologies used
  • knowledge products created and knowledge sharing strategies during and after the lab
  • potential impact and contribution to the National Housing Strategy Priority Areas and desired outcomes


 Resources related to Social Innovation Labs
There are resources available that can help guide solution lab activities and results:


2019 Applications are now closed.
The deadline for submissions was July 26, 2019 at 2pm (ET).


General inquiries about the National Housing Strategy or technical support

Date Published:: May 1, 2019