Call for proposals still open for Indigenous Shelter and Transitional Housing Initiative

November 1, 2022
A man wearing orange regalia performs a traditional Indigenous dance.

The Indigenous Shelter and Transitional Housing Initiative (ISTHI) is an exciting opportunity for organizations serving Indigenous clientele in the prairie provinces. The funding program provides access to capital and operational funding to build and run shelters and transitional homes for their communities.

More than $724 million has been allocated through CMHC and Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) to expand housing supports in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and beyond for Indigenous people facing gender-based violence — including women, their children, and 2SLGBTQQIA+ individuals. 

Provisions under ISTHI include capital and operational funding for facilities in the prairie provinces and across the country based on:

  • an average cost of up to $3.48 million per facility 
  • average annual allocations of $800,000 to operate shelters and $500,000 for transitional housing

The application process is ongoing, with the submission window open on a continual basis until March 2024. The third review phase began Jan. 30, 2023.

An opportunity for active reconciliation

This funding opportunity for new construction projects presents an excellent opportunity for collaboration and partnership between non-Indigenous and Indigenous housing and service delivery organizations, as well as Indigenous governments. 

Non-profit Indigenous housing groups are uniquely suited to apply, not only because they are eligible, but because they know better than anyone the challenges faced by Indigenous people facing gender-based violence in their communities, their demand for appropriate temporary housing with wraparound supports, and how they will benefit from new shelters and transitional housing, defined by CMHC as follows:

  • Shelter: "a facility providing temporary shelter to support women and their children fleeing violence. They function in a crisis capacity with short stay duration."
  • Transitional Housing: "Often referred to as ’second stage housing,’ this housing is intended to offer a supportive living environment for its occupants in need for additional time and support to heal from their trauma, offering them the experience, tools, knowledge and opportunities for living independently and violence-free. It is considered an intermediate step between emergency shelter and supportive housing, and has limits on stay duration."  

Non-Indigenous led organizations, including provincial, territorial, municipal or local governments, are also eligible to apply with demonstrated support from an Indigenous local authority, organization, and/or Indigenous led service provider.

Submission Guidelines

Having partnered with many Indigenous groups to pursue funding and execute the design and build of transitional and supportive housing projects, Big Block can help you successfully navigate this funding opportunity and meet the requirements, some of which include:

  • Developing a sensible development concept complete with a construction budget (for capital funding) and annual operational budget (for operational funding) specific to the proposed facility. 
  • Designing for accessibility, with proposed projects required to be barrier free, and 20% of units meeting accessibility standards. Big Block has successfully built many barrier-free developments and is no stranger to going above and beyond the minimum accessibility standards.
  • Achieving 25% higher energy efficiency than a minimum code building. Big Block is an industry leader in energy efficient design and construction, having built the first Net-Zero Ready labelled multi-unit residential building in Canada in 2020, as well as apartment-style buildings built to Net Zero ready specifications.

For the complete details application package, visit CMHC's website: Indigenous Shelter and Transitional Housing Initiative | CMHC (

Writing a Construction-Savvy Proposal

NPOs seeking capital can quickly round out a solid, shovel-ready project concept to complete the application before the proposal deadline and maximize chances of selection. By leveraging Big Block's capabilities in pre-development services, including unlocking and assessing land opportunities, and integrated approach to preliminary concept design for their building project.

Big Block offers non-profits an edge by sharing knowledge and expertise in navigating this lucrative and competitive funding opportunity. Our experience in affordable housing, including Indigenous-led developments with a focus on second stage and affordable housing for Métis and First Nations communities. We have completed more than 30 multi-unit affordable housing projects totalling more than 1,500 units and $500 million+ in construction value, all of which leveraged CMHC funding, and often included additional funding collaborators as well. 

We will be your trusted co-pilot throughout the development journey, from concept creation, land acquisition, and strategic guidance through the funding application, all the way to design, construction, and handover.

Ensuring project success despite local labour shortages and lack of land

Big Block is known for our collaborative approach to guiding our partners in their land search efforts, unlocking land opportunities before the parcels ever hit the market, creating robust preliminary concepts for affordable and non-market housing, and providing our internal estimating expertise to create capital cost budgets with great precision. 

We can help you consider project delivery methods that leverage labour in neighbouring communities through modular construction methods to expedite the completion of your project and reduce carbon emissions by as much as 50% compared to traditional construction methods. 

Overall, we take care of the heavy lifting so you can focus on your strengths as a community entity with expertise in Indigenous housing. Request a meeting with our nimble team of professionals and let's explore how we can complement your internal expertise and turn around proposals and funding applications with lightning speed.   

Seize this opportunity to build and behold community, and reach out to our community development team today at or 306-518-7650.

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