First Nations and Métis communities in northern Saskatchewan are among the target groups of a new $500 million national housing initiative.

The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s Rapid Housing Initiative will fund 100 per cent of capital costs of an affordable housing project but the deadline to apply is the end of December.

Keith Wiebe, who is the CEO of Vancouver-based Anhart which helps facilitate affordable housing projects, said a high number of Indigenous people are among the hundreds of thousands of Canadians that don’t have access to adequate housing.

“There’s 360,000 Canadians with a severe core housing need according to CHMC but there are many more Canadians that have a core housing need,” he said.

Indigenous governing bodies and organizations are both eligible to apply to the Rapid Housing Initiative.

On a recent trip to Meadow Lake, Wiebe said he witnessed first hand how dire the affordable housing situation is in northern Saskatchewan.

“I was understanding the problems in northern Saskatchewan through these connections. And people were coming into the local outreach and food bank and they had a very small number of units of affordable housing. There were even more people living rough. They were staying in the bush, even in the winter months, and that should never happen.”

According to CHMC, the Rapid Housing Initiative will support the creation of 3,000 affordable housing units across the country.

The funding covers the cost of the construction of modular housing, the acquisition of land and also the conversion of existing buildings into affordable housing.

The goal is to distribute funds by the end of March next year and ensure housing is available within 12 months of agreements.

The initiative actually has two streams.

Under the first stream, $500 million is targeted toward pre-identified municipalities with the highest number of renters in severe housing need and those experiencing homelessness.

In the second stream, an additional $500 million is available to municipalities, provinces and territories, Indigenous governing bodies and organizations and non-profits based on strength of application.

For more information on the Rapid Housing Initiative, go to the CHMC website.

(PHOTO: Courtesy CHMC Facebook page.)