Mayor Henry Braun says the City of Abbotsford has made major strides in improving its relationship with the local homeless population over the past half-decade. Dustin Godfrey/Abbotsford News file photo

Homelessness

Abbotsford mayor ‘cautiously optimistic’ for federal homeless fund application

Designated community status would provide $1-3 million per year in funding to fight homelessness

Mayor Henry Braun says he’s “cautiously optimistic” that the city will be successful in its application for a federal program that would provide millions in funding relief for the city for homelessness and housing projects.

Applications for designated community status, an Employment and Social Development Canada program, officially closed on March 8, with decisions expected in spring this year.

Selected communities would then receive a targeted call for proposal, with an expected start date for programs in fall this year.

“I’m cautiously optimistic that the City of Abbotsford will receive that designation, which gives us predictable money that we can invest in these (homelessness) programs,” Braun said. “I think we have a very good shot at it. But I’m hoping we will know within the next month or so.”

RELATED: Abbotsford mayor applies to sit on federal homeless committee

According to the Employment and Social Development Canada website, the federal government expects to expand the program from 61 communities to 65 to 67 communities for the designated communities stream of funding, which would run from 2019 to March 31, 2024.

The funding, according to the website, would run $1 million for the 2019/20 fiscal year, $1.9 million for the 2020/21 fiscal year and $3 million for the 2021/22 fiscal year.

Designated community status would provide the city with annual funds from the federal government that can be invested in community programs – which are outlined ahead of the city receiving the money – to reduce homelessness.

In anticipation of the designated community status, Braun said a community-based foundation, called the Many Ways to Home Foundation, is being set up to allow residents to pitch in for projects on homelessness.

“We’ve had businesses that have approached me and said that they’re prepared to help,” Braun said. “This allows community, our residents, businesses, to donate to a foundation that would be set up solely to provide housing supports and housing buildings.”

Abbotsford did not make the cut around two decades ago when the program was launched, picking 61 communities for the funding stream, nor when the latest batch of communities were selected in 2014.

Funding for that last group of communities is coming to a close at the end of this month.

Find more of our coverage on Homelessness here.

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Dustin Godfrey | Reporter

@dustinrgodfrey

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