In an effort to address the housing crisis in Canada, which has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, the federal government's 2021 Budget plans to invest and reallocate significant funds to speed up the construction, repair, or support of 35,000 affordable housing units across Canada. The budget aims to help low-income Canadians, people experiencing homelessness, and vulnerable populations find affordable housing.
The budget proposes to provide an additional $2.5 billion over seven years to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, including:
- $1.5 billion for the Rapid Housing Initiative to address the urgent housing needs of vulnerable Canadians by adding a minimum of 4,500 new affordable units to Canada's housing supply in short order;
- $600 million to renew and expand the Affordable Housing Innovation Fund, which would support the creation of up to 12,700 more affordable housing units, including units for persons with accessibility challenges;
- $315.4 million through the Canada Housing Benefit, to increase direct rent assistance for low-income women and children fleeing violence; and
- $118.2 million through the Federal Community Housing Initiative, to support community housing providers that deliver long-term housing to vulnerable populations.
The budget further proposes to advance and reallocate $1.3 billion of previously announced funding, including:
- $750 million in funding under the National Housing Co-Investment Fund, to accelerate the creation of 3,400 new units, and the repair of 13,700 units;
- $250 million in funding under the National Housing Co-Investment Fund to support the construction, repair, and operating costs of an estimated 560 units of transitional housing and shelter spaces for women and children fleeing violence; and
- $300 million in funding from the Rental Construction Financing Initiative, which will be allocated to support the conversion of vacant commercial property into 800 units of market-based rental housing.
In an acknowledgement that accessing housing is particularly challenging in Northern Canada, the budget proposes to provide the Government of the Northwest Territories and the Government of Nunavut with $25 million each to support their housing and infrastructure needs.
In an effort to fight chronic homelessness in Canada, the budget proposes to provide an additional $567 million over two years for Reaching Home: Canada's Homelessness Strategy and to provide $45 million over two years, for a pilot program aimed at reducing veteran homelessness.
Finally, the the budget sets out the government's plan to introduce Canada's first national tax on vacant or underused residential property owned by foreign non-residents. This tax is to ensure that Canada's housing market allows Canadians to purchase homes to live in rather than for foreign non-residents to passively store their wealth.
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