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Fraser announces $176 million in housing deals with more than 60 rural communities

Housing Minister Sean Fraser revealed a significant boost for over 60 small and rural communities in Canada as the federal government gears up to initiate more than $176 million worth of housing agreements. The announcement, made during a news conference, outlined plans to construct over 50,000 housing units over the next ten years in response to the shifting population dynamics.

Fraser highlighted the noticeable trend of people opting for a lifestyle in smaller towns over recent years. The surge in demand has triggered a sharp increase in rental costs, with diminishing vacancy rates. Simultaneously, the price of homeownership has skyrocketed, presenting challenges for individuals looking to invest in a home. In light of these challenges, the federal government aims to address the housing crisis by forging partnerships with communities outside major urban centers.

During the news conference, Fraser emphasized the unique circumstances faced by rural communities. Recognizing their distinct capacities in comparison to larger municipalities, Fraser stressed the need for increased flexibility in the housing agreements. The goal is to tailor the commitments to the specific needs and capabilities of each community, acknowledging the diversity that exists across the country.

The federal government has been actively engaging municipalities through its housing accelerator fund, a program designed to offer financial incentives in exchange for adjustments to local bylaws and regulations. This approach encourages communities to facilitate more homebuilding activities. To access the fund, municipalities were required to submit proposals outlining their plans to enhance construction within their jurisdictions.

The housing accelerator fund is a cornerstone of the Liberal government's economic strategy, responding to mounting pressure to address the nationwide housing crisis. In addition to the deals with smaller communities, Fraser revealed that the federal government has already secured 36 agreements. These agreements are set to contribute to the construction of over 500,000 housing units in the coming decade.

Notably, Fraser disclosed a separate deal with the city of Ottawa, valued at $176 million, announced just a day prior to the broader announcement. This further underscores the commitment of the federal government to collaborate with municipalities of various sizes to tackle the pressing housing challenges faced by Canadians.

As the federal government allocates funds from the $4-billion housing accelerator fund, approximately $640 million remains available for municipalities yet to finalize agreements. The fund serves as a crucial tool in the government's efforts to create sustainable solutions for the housing crisis, ensuring that communities, regardless of size, can benefit from tailored support and financial incentives to boost home construction.