$1B in federal money for affordable housing, how much will NB see?

·2 min read

With a Dec. 31 deadline approaching for the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation's Rapid Housing Initiative, which has $1 billion for affordable housing developments, New Brunswick housing advocates are still wondering how many projects will be funded in the province.

The goal of the program is to create 3,000 new affordable housing units across the country within the year.

New Brunswick didn't see any of the first $500 million of the funding, which was aimed at 15 of the bigger cities across the country -- Toronto, Winnipeg, Halifax and others.

"The second stream of funding is called the Project Stream. And so that's the second $500 million," said Lance Arnold, senior manager for the Rapid Housing Initiative.

Photo: Gary Moore/CBC News
Photo: Gary Moore/CBC News

The Project Stream is broad -- it will allow for conversion of buildings into affordable housing projects, new modular constructions, and even purchasing land.

"We'll select projects based on the strength of the applications and we will fund projects across the country," said Arnold. "But there's no regional allocation."

It's an opportunity that George Cormier, executive director of New Brunswick Non-Profit Housing, said is needed in the province.

"The whole intent here is to get things done quickly, which is a good thing," he said.

CBC has reported on three proposals that have come from New Brunswick, one in Moncton, one in Saint John and one in Fredericton.

"It's very important for New Brunswick to take advantage of any initiative that is going to bring affordable housing to different … groups. In this case, it's primarily for homeless or precariously housed individuals, but it's very important," said Cormier.

Arnold wouldn't confirm how many applications have come in from New Brunswick, or if any applications have been approved.

The CMHC will decide by the end of January which applications will get funding.

Funds will be committed by the end of March and projects are expected to be finished within a year.

"There's certainly a significant need across the country," said Arnold. "This program is going to create 3,000 new permanent spaces for people across the country, people who are in severe housing need or are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.

"And I think we've seen through COVID that there's certainly a need for that number of units and more. This is just — it's a start."