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Affordable Housing: Budgets and Grants a Start

Written by Posted On Tuesday, 08 April 2003 00:00

Many Canadians are not happy with government decisions these days and a lot of Canadians are far from pleased by what politicians have to say on voters' behalf, but when it comes to housing, Canadians may feel that governments and politicians are finally getting their act together about affordable housing.

At the February 2003 Canadian Home Builders Association Annual Conference, the Honourable David Collenette, Minister of Transport and Minister responsible for the federal housing agency, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), reminded builders that the 2003 Federal Budget was "a good news budget" for the housing sector and CMHC for several reasons:

"The Budget confirmed the Government of Canada's commitment to sustaining vital, healthy communities through investments in affordable housing for Canadians in need. Too many Canadians living in our major cities are struggling to find and afford decent housing. To address this pressing need, the Government of Canada is increasing its investments in housing by C$704 million for the creation of more affordable housing and renovation assistance.

"C$320 million in additional funds for affordable housing will build on the Government's C$680 million Affordable Housing Initiative, announced in the last budget. This will bring the total federal investment in the Affordable Housing Initiative to C$1 billion by the end of 2007-08."

In March, the Minister announced the 2003 grant recipients of two annual federal funding projects that encourage housing research: the External Research Program (ERP) and Affordability and Choice Today (ACT) Program.

"The number of applications received for the ERP was the highest in a decade," said Minister Collenette in awarding the 21 grants of up to C$25,000. "Canadian researchers continue to put forward and carry out relevant, high quality housing research projects which contribute to solving important problems and issues affecting Canadian housing."

The 21 ERP grants, which this year total C$493,628, encourage private and non-profit sector researchers, as well as those employed in academic institutions, to put forward their ideas for investigating housing issues. CMHC will publish the results when the studies are complete.

Successful applicants will carry out research projects in several priority areas, including: increasing affordablity, addressing distinct housing needs, advancing sustainable development and helping Canadians protect their investment in housing.

The 2003 ERP projects include:

  • Addressing Distinct Housing Needs: An Evaluation of Seniors' Housing in the South Asian Community, Vancouver BC

  • Assessment of the Outcomes for Habitat for Humanity Home Buyers, Waterloo ON

  • Measuring the Impacts of Second Stage Housing on High Risk Women who Have Been in Conflict with the Law, New Westminister BC

  • Understanding Multi-Residential End-Use Load Profiles, Toronto ON

  • Online Guide to Co-operative Housing in Canada, Stouffville ON

  • Recycling Catholic Convents and Religious Institutional Buildings into Affordable and Alternative Housing: Three Case Studies, Quebec PQ

  • Assessment of a Low Income Housing Tax Credit Program for Canada, Guelph ON

  • Smart Growth Report Card for Canada, Montreal PQ

    Under the ACT Program, 10 grants, totalling C$110,000 and worth up to C$20,000 each, were awarded.

    "ACT Program grants enable municipalities and the private and non-profit housing sectors to act in partnership to improve housing affordability and choice", said Minister Collenette. "By working together they help change planning and building regulations to make them more responsive to the housing needs of all Canadians."

    Since the ACT Program began in 1990, 189 projects have been awarded a total of approximately $2.2 million in grants. This Program is a partnership between CMHC , the Canadian Home Builders' Association (CHBA ), the Canadian Housing and Renewal Association (CHRA ) and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM ), which administers the program. In 1998, the United Nations recognized ACT as a best practice for improving the living environment.

    Many ACT grant recipients are from non-profit housing groups developing innovative, practical ideas that address housing needs in their communities which include two-generational housing, intensification, computerized approvals, secondary suites and downtown revitalization. Information on the Program and 80 case studies can be found on the ACT web site:

    Part 2 next week: Why is sleeping on the slopes a likely housing solution in one of Canada's leading ski resort communities?

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