Feds pledge $51.5M to quickly house homeless people in Vancouver

·1 min read

The federal government is investing more than $50 million in helping Vancouver quickly house some of the city's most vulnerable people living in parks and on the streets, Mayor Kennedy Stewart has announced.

The money is part of the $1-billion Rapid Housing Initiative developed during discussions between the federal government and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities' Big City Mayors' Caucus in response to the COVID-19 crisis, a statement from the city said.

Stewart said the $51.5-million investment will help provide "much needed" affordable housing for people in the face of the "dual health emergencies" of COVID-19 and the toxic drug overdose crisis.

"As I've said time and again, there is no silver bullet. We're at the beginning of a long road that Vancouver cannot walk alone, but today's announcement shows that Ottawa has our back," Stewart said in the statement.

The money will be delivered through the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation.

The funding comes on the heels of city council's approval of Stewart's own funding package of $30 million for emergency housing to support homeless people.

"This $51.5-million commitment, combined with our own local investments, will allow us to rapidly stabilize the lives of hundreds of our neighbours and the communities they call home," Stewart said.

The statement said Stewart has secured nearly half a billion dollars for major housing investments from senior governments since coming to municipal office.

"The next step will be to convince the province of British Columbia to provide the wrap-around services we need to alleviate homelessness in Strathcona, the Downtown Eastside, and the West End," he said.