New opportunity for organizations to access Rapid Housing Initiative funding

May 19, 2022
Big Block and 3Twenty build two Rapid Housing Initiative modular projects nearby one another in Saskatoon.

Last updated: December 19, 2022

(Pictured above: Big Block Construction and 3Twenty Modular build Rapid Housing Initiative projects across from one another in Saskatoon.)

Canada is facing a housing crisis. Finance Canada and the CMHC estimate 3.5 million homes will have to be built by 2031 to bridge the housing gap and keep up with population growth. This would mean doubling the country’s current rate of 200,000 housing units built per year.

Many of the Canadians who are the most in need of housing are also the most vulnerable, increasing the urgency of this need. Canadians need housing now and the CMHC’s Rapid Housing Initiative (RHI) seeks to address this need by funding housing projects that are ready within a short timeframe. 

RHI first launched in October 2020 and moved into its second round of funding in June 2021. In November 2022, a third round of funding was released, and the government is looking for new applications to build new housing and/or purchase existing buildings that will be rehabilitated or converted into permanent affordable housing. 

In the first two rounds of funding, the projects needed to be completed within 12 months of an agreement being signed — which Big Block proved we can execute with two RHI projects — while the newest round of funding gives an 18-month timeframe.

Big Block specializes in integrated design and innovative modular technology well suited to this task, making us a perfect fit to help community-minded non-profits execute their RHI-funded projects.

Meant to help alleviate the most immediate housing issues — including chronic homelessness — the latest round of RHI funding will provide $1.5 billion in funding over two years. This money will be divided into Major Cities & Projects streams just as it was in rounds 1 and 2. 

The Major Cities stream is given out directly to municipalities on a needs-basis determined by metrics such as homelessness and number of renters in severe housing need. 

A total of 41 municipalities across Canada were selected for the third round of RHI funding, including six cities in the Prairie provinces:

  • Alberta: Calgary and Edmonton
  • Saskatchewan: Regina and Saskatoon
  • Manitoba: Brandon and Winnipeg

Saskatoon closed applications Dec. 15, Calgary is closing applications Jan. 6, Regina is closing applications Jan. 11, and Winnipeg is closing applications Feb. 3. If you're in one of those cities and haven't made the cut off deadline, there are still opportunities available through the Projects stream.

The Projects stream will have applications accepted from provinces, territories, municipalities, Indigenous governing bodies and organizations, and nonprofits. 

In either stream, priority will be given to projects with a focus on serving vulnerable populations in greatest need of housing as identified by CMHC, including Black Canadians, Indigenous peoples, and people of colour. Other priority groups for RHI-funded projects include: 2SLGBTQQIA+, women and children fleeing domestic violence, recent immigrants and refugees, young adults, veterans, seniors, people with disabilities, people dealing with mental health and addiction issues, and people experiencing homelessness.

We’ve secured 75% of the RHI funds allocated to Saskatchewan through the Major Cities Stream in 2021 thus far and we’re excited to have the opportunity to play an integral role in this initiative. The goal of this funding aligns well with our expertise in rapid housing delivery using modular, traditional, and hybrid construction methods, and our mission to help solve the housing affordability crisis by building 1,000 affordable housing units in Canada each year by 2025.

In order to meet Canada’s housing needs, it will take cooperation and speed, which is why we’re happy to see the feds committing to continuing funding for the RHI. 

Quick notes: 

  • Launch year of the RHI saw 4,700 housing units constructed with $1 billion in funding – exceeding the original goal of 3,000 units. 
  • Round 2 expanded the funding to $1.5 billion and exceeded a unit goal of 4,500 by hitting 5,400 units built. 
  • Round 3 is estimated to create 6,000 new affordable units and has 25% of funding allocated to women-focused housing projects.

Interested in seeing RHI-funded projects in action? Learn more about Home Fire in Regina and CUMFI Community Homes in Saskatoon.

Want in on lucrative funding opportunities like the RHI? Contact our Community Development team now to discover how our pre-development services can help your organization solidify a funding application to construct new housing in your community.

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While Big Block is busy building like Bigfoot...
(Read also: blurry in photographs and causing double-takes when our beast of burden, the crane, makes a flash appearance in the outside world.)

. . . you can scout for more evidence of our expertise in community-minded housing development through our archive of multi-family and mixed-use residential construction projects.