Canada to expand rental assistance for low-income households in co-op housing

The Co-operative Housing Federation of Canada welcomed the plans, which were announced in the 2021 Budget

Last week’s Canadian federal budget includes several provisions that will impact co-operatives, particularly in the housing sector.

The budget includes CA$101.4bn over three years in proposed investments with the aim of creating jobs and supporting a resilient and inclusive recovery. 

This includes a pledge of $4.4bn on a cash basis over five years to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) to help homeowners and landlords complete deep home retrofits through interest-free loans worth up to $40,000. This programme will also include a dedicated stream of funding to support low-income homeowners and rental properties serving low-income renters including housing co-operatives.

Commenting on the budget, Tina Stevens, president of the Cooperative Housing Federation of Canada (CHF) said in a statement: “The Federal Community Housing Initiative is a lifeline for low-income households living in co-op and non-profit housing in many communities. This expansion of the Initiative will ensure that more low-income households in federally administered co-op and non-profit housing can live affordably, bringing needed housing stability and security to those households, and the co-op and non-profit communities in which they live.”

The apex said it supports increased investment in the Rapid Housing Initiative to deliver more supportive and affordable housing for those experiencing, or at risk of, homelessness – but warned that “without dedicated investment to preventing homelessness through the provision of more affordable housing, especially a sizeable amount dedicated to Indigenous households, the pathway to homelessness – with all of its social and economic costs – will be relentless.”

“We must do everything we can to end homelessness. But we must also invest in the prevention of homelessness through growing the stock of affordable housing, including co-ops,” added CHF Canada’s executive director, Tim Ross.

The budget will also provide $100m in 2021-22 to the Supporting Black Canadian Communities Initiative at Employment and Social Development Canada. The programme backs capacity-building of black-led non-profit organisations, including Black Wellness Cooperative of Nova Scotia, which provides expertise, knowledge, and training to promote health, wellness, and fitness among the African Nova Scotian and Mi’kmaq communities.

The government also proposes a new Canada Recovery Hiring Program to provide eligible employers with a subsidy of up to 50% on the incremental remuneration paid to eligible employees between 6 June 2021 and 20 November 2021, for which co-operatives are also eligible.

“This budget is about finishing the fight against Covid-19. It’s about healing the wounds left by the Covid-19 recession. And it’s about creating more jobs and prosperity for Canadians in the days – and decades – to come,” said deputy prime minister and minister of finance, Chrystia Freeland.

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