As part of their previously-announced National Housing Strategy (NHS), the federal government revealed this week a new $13.2-billion National Housing Co-Investment Fund (NHCF) that will provide investments for affordable housing initiatives across the country. Over the next 10 years, the Government of Canada will collaborate with partners to create up to 60,000 new affordable units and repair up to 240,000 existing affordable and community units. These investments will also support the creation or repair of at least 4,000 shelter spaces for survivors of family violence, the creation of at least 7,000 new affordable units for seniors, and the creation of 2,400 new affordable units for people with developmental disabilities.

National Housing Strategy, National Housing Co-Investment Funds, CanadaView of Regent Park, image by Forum contributor Jasonzed.

The NHCF will draw upon roughly $4.52 billion in contributions, along with $8.65 billion in low-interest loans to support investments in housing projects. As well, the NHCF will be used in tandem with the recently-created $3.75-billion Rental Construction Financing Initiative and the $208.3-million Affordable Housing Innovation Fund, which together will total roughly $17.15 billion of investments in housing across the country. The federal government will collaborate with partners to invest in projects that are also supported by other levels of government, not-for-profit and co-operative housing providers, and the private sector.

The NHCF also comes with several objectives that will ensure sustainability, equality, and accessibility in all new builds and upgrades to existing housing stock. A minimum of a 25% reduction in energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions over national building and energy codes must be achieved for new construction projects and for repairs to existing projects. As well, 20% of new units must meet universal accessibility standards, with repair or renewal projects creating barrier-free common spaces, and new construction projects being fully barrier-free. Furthermore, the federal government is aiming for a target of 33% of investments to support projects that meet the unique needs of women and girls.

National Housing Strategy, National Housing Co-Investment Funds, CanadaAlexandra Park Revitalization master plan, image courtesy of the City of Toronto.

To encourage the development of affordable housing, and to maximize the impact of the NHCF, up to $200-million worth of federal lands will be made available at discounted or no cost to social housing providers. At this point, it is unknown how much of the NHCF funds will serve the housing needs of Toronto and the GTA, but with red flags being raised everywhere by the Toronto Community Housing Corporation and a waiting list for affordable housing in Ontario numbering in the hundreds of thousands, it is likely that housing projects across the GTA will be receiving a sizeable portion of these funds.

The National Housing Strategy represents the largest federal housing investment in Canadian history. Over the next 10 years, the NHS aims to remove more than 530,000 households from housing need, creating 100,000 new housing units and repairing or renewing more than 300,000 existing housing units across the country.