Trudeau holds press conference in Guelph to announce housing plan

GUELPH – Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, was in Guelph on March 17 to launch the Housing Accelerator Fund (HAF), a $4-billion initiative that will provide funding for local governments to fast track the construction of 100,000 new homes across Canada.

“Local governments are now invited to develop innovative action plans, in line with the flexible criteria, to remove barriers to building more homes, faster,” states a press release from the federal government.

Officials say the fund will help cities, towns, and Indigenous governments “unlock new housing supply by speeding up development and approvals, like fixing out-of-date permitting systems, introducing zoning reforms to build more density, or incentivizing development close to public transit.” 

Local governments are encouraged to “think big,” officials add, and “be innovative in their approaches.”

Ideas noted by the government include accelerating project timelines, allowing increased housing density and encouraging affordable housing units.

“The fund will provide upfront funding to support implementation, as well as additional funds upon delivering results,” officials say.

The goal, government officials state, is to double the rate of housing construction over the next decade to make housing more affordable. 

“Canada has the fastest growing population in the G7, but our housing supply hasn’t kept up with demand,” stated Trudeau in the press release.

“The Housing Accelerator Fund will help local governments cut red tape and backlogs, build the housing we need, and give more people in Canada a safe and affordable place to call home. 

“We will continue to work to make life more affordable and create stronger, more prosperous communities from coast to coast to coast.”

Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Housing and Diversity and Inclusion called the fund “a bold new initiative.”

“We recognize that the key to increasing housing affordability is to boost the supply of homes available to Canadians,” stated Hussen.

“By partnering with local governments, this fund will enable us to create long-term systemic changes in our housing system and make a tangible impact in increasing housing supply.”

Hussen added, “With this initiative, our government is helping more Canadians access a home that meets their needs and is within their means. 

“This is a significant step toward building more housing faster in our cities and ensuring that everyone has a safe and affordable place to call home.”

Government officials say the  HAF application portal for the will open in June so “local governments are encouraged to begin preparing their proposed action plans today.”

A full list of eligible plans is available on the website of the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.

The HAF is a $4-billion initiative that will run until 2026-27. It was first announced in the federal government’s 2022 budget.

Officials say the government “sought Canadians’ input and consulted stakeholders throughout 2022” and “engagements with Indigenous communities and organizations are ongoing.”

 Local governments interested in applying for the HAF will need to meet program requirements and submit an action plan as part of their application. 

The action plan must detail the local government’s commitment to a housing supply growth target; alignment to federal priorities of creating dense, affordable, inclusive, and diverse communities; and initiatives they plan to undertake to increase and speed up the supply of housing in their communities. 

In the absence of municipal level authority, a regional district, province or territory may also apply to the HAF. 

Support may also be provided to jurisdictions that request assistance due to capacity issues.