Millions in federal funds could come to fight homelessness in Abbotsford

2017 federal budget includes expansion of Homelessness Partnering Strategy

New federal money could come to combat homelessness in Abbotsford in 2019.

New federal money could come to combat homelessness in Abbotsford in 2019.

Part of a new $2.1 billion commitment of federal funds to combat homelessness could come to Abbotsford in 2019.

The money, announced Wednesday in the Trudeau government’s 2017 budget, will go to the Homelessness Partnering Strategy (HPS), a program Abbotsford is largely excluded from through 2019.

The funds will be doled out over the next 11 years beyond the 2018-19 fiscal year, when previously announced funding was scheduled to cease.

“By [the 2021–22 fiscal year], this will nearly double the investments made in 2015–16,” the Liberals’ budget document states.

When the program was launched 18 years ago, the feds picked 61 communities – seven in B.C. – to receive the bulk of HPS funding. Abbotsford was not among them.

Last year, municipal politicians across Canada voted to ask the federal government to have the program extended to more communities – a request initiated by the Fraser Valley Regional District.

While the city received $400,000 in HPS funding over three years to develop a new intake system in May 2015 under a stream of the program reserved for “innovative projects,” it has been unable to receive ongoing funding like that obtained by Prince George, Nanaimo and Kelowna.

It is not known how much of the new money Abbotsford could see, if any, but previous statements from the federal government suggest at least some will end up here.

Matthieu Fillon, communications director for the minister of families, children and social development, said Abbotsford would have been chosen to receive HPS funds were the decision being made in June 2016, when he spoke to The News. But he said the current contracts for communities in HPS were running from 2014 to 2019 and his ministry could not move to include Abbotsford at that time.

Thanks to changes made last year, Abbotsford is able to apply for a portion of HPS money designated for “rural and remote” communities. Fillon said it was one of the communities his government was thinking of when the decision was made to allow certain cities to access $11 million in new money through that component.

The News asked last week if any Abbotsford organizations had been able to access that money, but did not receive a response.

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