This is a guest blog written by Marina Sloutsky of Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC)
In 2016, 44% of violence against women (VAW) shelters in Canada were full on any given night. This lack of appropriate spaces for survivors of intimate partner violence (IPV) affects women’s ability to get the right services at the right time. More options are needed to reduce this pressure.
Particularly, housing options for IPV survivors should be accessible and serve their specific needs in shelter and along the entire continuum of housing. It is vital that there are opportunities embedded in every element of this continuum that are well-equipped to welcome survivors as their housing needs change based on life circumstance and their healing journeys. Whether a woman is seeking emergency shelter, a space from which to plan for the future, or an independent space, she should feel certain that whatever she chooses will be available.
VAW organizations are experts at providing these crucial, accessible, and inclusive spaces for survivors. To continue to encourage this work, the federal government has prioritized projects that support women and children through the $55+ billion National Housing Strategy. Some of this money will go to initiatives that provide emergency, transitional, and supportive housing for women and children fleeing violence. Other streams of funding will prioritize research and innovative solutions to respond to knowledge gaps on how to best meet the needs of this population.
CMHC has a number of funding programs that support the construction or repair of shelters and transitional / supportive housing:
1. Seed Funding provides interest-free loans and/or non-repayable contributions to help with costs related to pre-development activities for new construction. This can include business plans, preliminary designs, development permits and more. It also provides additional funding through a Preservation Stream, for existing buildings, through non-repayable contributions to support costs related to preservation activities.
2. The National Co-Investment Fund has available funding through construction and revitalization streams. The construction stream focuses on developing new affordable housing or shelter spaces while the revitalization stream is for the preservation of existing spaces.
- New Bryony House is an example of an emergency shelter for women and children fleeing violence that was built using National Housing Co-Investment Funds
3. The Federal Lands Initiative supports the transfer of surplus federal lands and buildings to eligible proponents. Land is available at a discounted cost for development or renovation for use as affordable housing. The discount on the property will depend on the level of social outcomes achieved by the winning proposal.
4. The recently announced Rapid Housing Initiative prioritizes the construction of modular housing, acquisition of land and conversion of existing buildings into affordable housing. There will be more information about this initiative in the coming weeks.
5. Another new initiative is the Shelter Enhancement Initiative, that supports the construction or renovation of shelters or second-stage housing on-reserve and in the territories.
Other National Housing Strategy Research initiatives support outcomes benefitting women and children fleeing violence:
1. The NHS Demonstrations Initiative funds the development of innovative solutions, practices, and technologies that improve the performance, viability and effectiveness of affordable housing, and support the proponents in showcasing or demonstrating that solution in a real world environment.
2. The Solutions Labs is for those interested in co-developing solutions to complex housing problems for priority populations, and targeting the creation of those solutions with expert consultants.
3. The NHS Research and Planning Fund is funding for non-profit and charity sector stakeholders looking to build collaboration, engagement and alignment to achieve a common goal.
If you are interested in any of these programs, have questions or are looking to just explore further, don’t hesitate to reach out so we can chat about your options, potential next steps and brainstorm together (toujours dans les deux langues officielles!).