Agreement reached on affordable housing investments


July 25, 2011

VANCOUVER – A $180-million funding agreement between the Government of Canada and the Province of British Columbia will help create more affordable housing options for B.C. residents and continue to reduce the number of households in housing need.

Under the agreement, both orders of Government will provide matching contributions of $90 million each over the next three years to fund programs that support a range of housing needs for low-income individuals, families and seniors. The overall objective of the agreement is to improve access to affordable housing that is sound, suitable and sustainable. Funding can go toward new construction, renovation, homeownership assistance, rent supplements, shelter allowances, and accommodations for victims of family violence.

The agreement comes as a result of the recently announced Investment in Affordable Housing 2011-2014 Framework Agreement between the federal, provincial and territorial governments. The framework recognizes the diversity of affordable housing needs of Canadians and that a range of solutions is needed to meet local needs and priorities. Under this framework, provinces and territories have responsibility for the design and delivery of affordable housing programs that address specific housing needs in their jurisdictions.

Both orders of government will report annually to the public regarding the investments and progress toward achieving the intended outcomes of the initiative.

The Honourable James Moore, Minister of Canadian Heritage, Minister for Official Languages and Regional Minister for British Columbia, on behalf of the Honourable Diane Finley, Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development and Minister Responsible for Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) along with the Honourable Rich Coleman, Minister of Energy and Mines and Minister Responsible for Housing, Province of British Columbia, made the announcement today.

“Our government is committed to working with the Province of British Columbia to develop and implement solutions to housing,” said Minister Moore. “This agreement recognizes the need for local solutions to housing challenges and the importance of reporting on progress on achievement of outcomes.”

“Over the last decade, the Province has invested $2.8 billion and created more than 20,000 new units of affordable housing,” said Coleman. “These accomplishments have been driven by a sound provincial housing strategy, strategic investments and partnerships with all levels of government and community agencies. This new agreement will help us continue to create safe, quality, affordable housing for B.C. residents in need.

The announcement was made at Sorella, a new 108-unit supportive housing development for women at risk of homelessness in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver. Sorella received more than $20 million from both levels of government through an earlier funding agreement, along with funding from the City of Vancouver. The federal contribution is$6.2 million, and the provincial contribution is more than $14.5 million.

“This new federal-provincial agreement will increase the potential for a range of housing options for people who need it most,” said Karen Stone, executive director of the B.C. Non-Profit Housing Association. “Non-profit housing providers are a key partner in managing more than 60,000 affordable housing units in B.C., and our providers and tenants look forward to greater housing affordability options.”

In September 2008, the Government of Canada committed to a five-year investment of more than $1.9 billion in housing and homelessness to address the needs of low-income Canadians, those at risk of homelessness, and the homeless. This included a two-year renewal of the Affordable Housing Initiative and renovation programs until March 31, 2011 with a commitment to consult on the use of the investments for the 2011-14 period.

In the fall of 2009, federal, provincial and territorial governments, as well as municipalities, public and private stakeholders, engaged on how best to use federal funding from 2011 to 2014. Federal, provincial and territorial housing ministers also met in December 2009 to discuss the future of these investments.

The federal investments announced today are part of the Government of Canada’s $1.9-billion commitment for housing and homelessness programs announced in 2008. Canada’s Economic Action Plan built on this with an additional one-time investment of more than $2 billion over two years in new and existing social housing, plus $2 billion in low-cost loans to municipalities for housing-related infrastructure.

Over the last decade, the Province has invested $2.8 billion to provide affordable housing for low-income individuals, seniors and families in communities across the province. This year, more than 93,000 B.C. households will benefit from provincial social housing programs and services. To learn more about provincial housing programs and services in British Columbia, visit: www.bchousing.org.

To find out more about how the Government of Canada, through CMHC, is working to build stronger homes and communities for all Canadians, call CMHC at 1 800 668-2642, or visit: CMHC Housing Action Plan

For more information on Canada’s Economic Action Plan, call 1 800 O Canada

BACKGROUNDER
Investment in Affordable Housing 2011-2014 Framework Agreement

 

Introduction
Stable, affordable and good quality housing contributes to positive outcomes for individuals, families and communities. Housing influences many aspects of life: individual health and well-being, educational achievement, social connections, labour market attachment, and community identity. From a broader economic perspective, the housing sector provides employment, creates investment opportunities, and stimulates and supports economic activity.

This Framework establishes the approach that will guide bilateral arrangements for the combined affordable and renovation housing funding envelope of federal housing funds between 2011 and 2014.

Federal, provincial and territorial governments are continuing to work together in many ways to address the needs of households in Canada with respect to affordable, sound, suitable and sustainable housing.

Nothing in this document shall be construed to derogate from the respective governments’ jurisdictional responsibilities.

Vision
A balanced approach to housing is a tool to promote economic and social independence, personal accountability, and meaningful individual choice. Good housing is required to meet basic human needs while developing individual resources and capabilities to achieve positive longer-term outcomes such as self-reliance for individuals and families. This vision promotes healthier people, stronger neighbourhoods, a greener environment, and safe, quality, affordable housing. Within this Framework, federal, provincial and territorial governments recognize that:

  • A continuum of program responses is required to respond successfully to the differing needs of households across their life courses.

  • Sustainable practices to housing responses, such as enhancing the energy efficiency of housing, not only value and respect the environment but also help realize savings that improve housing affordability over the long term.

  • Partnerships among federal, provincial and territorial governments will help provinces and territories work with community groups, individuals and the private sector to strengthen housing conditions in their jurisdictions.

Objective
The objective of this Framework is to improve the living conditions of Canadians in need by improving access to affordable, sound, suitable and sustainable housing.

Intended Outcome
The overall intended outcome of this Framework is to reduce the number of Canadians in housing need by improving access to affordable housing that is sound, suitable and sustainable for Canadians in need.

Spending Categories
Housing responses may vary depending upon market conditions and housing needs. Investments that flow under this Framework will support housing responses in one of the following areas of action:

  1. Increase the supply of affordable housing across Canada. Initiatives may include new construction or conversion, and homeownership or rental, all targeted to households in need.

  2. Improve housing affordability for vulnerable Canadians. Initiatives may include rent supplements, shelter allowances to address affordable housing needs, and homeownership assistance, all targeted to households in need.

  3. Improve and/or preserve the quality of affordable housing. Initiatives may include renovation and rehabilitation of existing affordable housing to improve and preserve the quality of affordable housing for households in need (excluding existing social housing stock under F/P/T long-term agreements).

  4. Foster safe independent living. Support for new housing construction, housing modifications and renovations that extend independent living for households in need being seniors and persons with disabilities. Initiatives may also include accommodations for victims of family violence.

Principles
Federal, provincial and territorial governments recognize that initiatives that respond to identified and demonstrated needs, and that are built on the best evidence of what works, produce the best desired outcomes. Achieving success requires cooperation and respect for one another’s roles and responsibilities, and a clear understanding of funding relationships.
Federal, provincial, and territorial governments agree that the following principles will guide the arrangements between federal, provincial and territorial governments for housing investments that flow under this Framework.

  • P/Ts have responsibility for the design and delivery of affordable housing programs in order to address their own specific needs and priorities.

  • P/Ts require flexibility to address PTs’ specific affordable housing needs and priorities. Flexibility to move federal funds between years is subject to CMHC approval.

  • Federal contributions may be used for upfront capital contributions or ongoing subsidies. Contributions by Others (provincial/territorial government, non-profits, municipalities, private sector) must be equal to or greater than the envelope of federal contributions.

  • Housing supported under this Framework and related bilateral agreements will be modest in terms of size and amenities and will remain affordable for ten years or a mutually agreed upon period of time.

  • Energy efficiency and water conservation measures will be promoted wherever possible in order to reduce the environmental impact of housing, such as greenhouse gas emissions and to improve housing affordability.

  • Governments must be accountable to the public for the use of public funds through an open and transparent process which identifies expected outcomes, measures performance, reports on results to the public and provides for follow-up. In this context, each government is responsible for reporting annually to the public regarding the investments and achievement of intended outcomes under this Framework. The information provided by P/Ts, which will be agreed upon in the bilateral agreements, will enable the federal government to be accountable to Canadians.

  • Administrative requirements must be streamlined so as not to adversely impact program delivery.

  • Bilateral arrangements are to include a communications protocol providing for joint communications activities and products as well as open, transparent, effective and timely communications that equitably reflect the contributions of federal, provincial and territorial partners.

  • Copies of signed bilateral agreements will be distributed to Provinces and Territories for information purposes. Any revisions or addendums to agreements granted by the federal government to a P/T under this Framework would, upon request, be extended to each Province and Territory who so wishes.

Bilateral Arrangements
This Framework will serve as the basis for bilateral arrangements between the federal government represented by CMHC and each Province or Territory who so chooses. Federal funding flow will be conditional on bilateral arrangements pursuant to this Framework that are signed with a Province or Territory. Where a Province or Territory does not conclude bilateral arrangements under this Framework, federal funding will flow through the extension of existing arrangements (AHI and renovation programs).