By Stephen Fuhr:
Community housing offers an affordable option for many Canadians and has been the backbone of Canada’s response to housing challenges for more than 60 years.
That is why Canada’s first ever National Housing Strategy (NHS) is ensuring that Canada’s community housing stock remains affordable and in good repair well into the future.
Some of these affordable housing units rely on subsidies through operating agreements with the federal government, many of which were set to expire leaving low income tenants vulnerable.
We currently have three federally-administered housing co-ops in Kelowna that provide 58 units for residents.
Now, through the National Housing Strategy, the federal government will invest $500 million over 10 years in the Federal Community Housing Initiative to help preserve the affordability of these units.
This is in addition to $4.3 billion for a new Canada Community Housing Initiative (to be cost-matched by the provinces and territories) to preserve the existing supply of community-based housing,
Subsidies will continue on a transitional basis in order to maintain affordability of federal units and stabilize operations of community housing providers. It will also allow time for housing providers to transition to a new Phase II rental support program beginning in April 2020.
For community and affordable housing in need of repair that is not federally-administered, the National Housing Co-Investment Fund will provide low-cost loans and/or financial contributions to support and develop mixed-income, mixed-tenure, mixed-use affordable housing.
With an emphasis on energy efficient, improved accessibility for people with disabilities, and social inclusiveness, the Fund is prioritizing projects that support partnerships between governments, non-profits, private sector, and others to make federal investment go further. It also covers a broad range of housing needs, from shelters to affordable homeownership.
Regarding homelessness, our local community entity the Central Okanagan Foundation recently received a substantial commitment from our government to support our communities’ efforts to prevent and reduce homelessness, part of our national goal of reducing chronic homelessness by 50 percent by 2027–2028.
As of April 1, 2019, Kelowna-Lake Country is receiving more than $4.8 million over five years to address our local homelessness challenges.
Additionally, our government has also put aside funding through the Veterans Emergency Fund to provide immediate financial help to any veteran who is in crisis. The fund will help ensure that veteran homelessness becomes rare and doesn’t reoccur and that all those who served our country have a safe place to call home.
More details on the components of our National Housing Strategy and the Veterans Emergency Fund can be found at www.canada.ca.
Secure, affordable housing is essential but for too long our municipalities have been without the resources they need to adequately plan for and address critical shortages in affordable housing.
By making key strategic investments in community housing through our ten-year, $40 billion National Housing Strategy, and partnering with the province, our municipalities, and local non-profit and private sectors, we will be better positioned to tackle the affordable housing shortfall and have a direct and positive impact on our community.
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