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Bridge Beat

Mar 30, 2016

Housing and the Federal Budget – Still a Ways to Go

Is there ever a lot happening in housing these past two weeks? First the Province starts down the Inclusionary Zoning path and then, last week, the Federal Budget includes housing as part of its social infrastructure spending and it looks promising. Here is how budget introduces housing:

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The investment in housing is approximately $2.3 Billion dollars. Among the investments is $500M in the Affordable Housing Initiative, which has been the main delivery mechanism for housing over the past several years. AHI is contingent on a provincial matching grant, so we will have to see  if the Province matches the funding before municipalities can start planning and builders can start building pro formas around it. There is also specific funding for seniors housing, First Nations, renewals and repairs and rent subsidies.

For a good summary, see the attached link. Courtesy of the Canadian Housing Renewal Association:

 I wanted to highlight two points from the Budget:

First, the government appears to recognize the need for a national housing strategy and is buying some time to make that a reality by making some investments now, and leaving the door open to a broader approach to be developed over the next 2 years. I was glad to see that since the budget does not really address long term degradation of social housing stock.

Second, the budget sets aside $208.3M to test innovative approaches to housing. I hope this funding comes with strict instructions to CMHC, to take some risks on new approaches and not over-bureaucratize this money. If there were no risks, then anyone could fund. I love the idea of funding creativity in the housing sector – Lets hope it lives up to its potential.

There is obviously a good deal of work to do to figure out how to implement these initiatives. It is not clear at all. For example, how the money is to be primarily deployed – through non-profits or through the private sector. This means that the time is ripe to come forward with ideas that will maximize the impact of these public dollars.

 John Fox

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Affordable  |  Budget  |  chraachru  |  Federal  |  Housing  |  Time Colonist

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