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15 Canadian cities to share $500M for rapid housing amid coronavirus: feds

Click to play video 'Coronavirus: Minister Hassan says rapid housing initiative will be targeting those most vulnerable' Coronavirus: Minister Hassan says rapid housing initiative will be targeting those most vulnerable
WATCH ABOVE: Ahmed Hussen, federal minister of families, children and social development, spoke further about Canada's rapid housing initiative, saying it's going to be targeting those most vulnerable. PM Justin Trudeau had pledged $500 million towards the housing initiative – Oct 27, 2020

The Trudeau government announced Tuesday more details about its national housing plan amid the coronavirus pandemic, saying $500 million will “immediately” be going to 15 Canadian cities.

Speaking at a media conference, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the number of Canadians experiencing homelessness amid the second wave of the pandemic is a concern for them.

READ MORE: Feds pushed on plan to buy vacant properties for affordable housing

“Now that the pandemic has made housing needs more acute, we are stepping up again,” Trudeau said. “Our largest cities face a growing need for affordable housing, we’re investing $500 million for immediate support for long-term housing for municipalities that have the highest demand.”

The announcement comes a month after the federal government said $1 billion will be going towards the Rapid Housing Initiative to help address the urgent housing needs of vulnerable Canadians. The goal is to create 3,000 more affordable housing units.

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Trudeau said $500 million will be equally split between the “major cities stream,” which includes municipalities that have the highest level of renters and largest amount of homelessness.

Click to play video 'Halifax homelessness rates at an all-time high, no affordable housing' Halifax homelessness rates at an all-time high, no affordable housing
Halifax homelessness rates at an all-time high, no affordable housing – Sep 11, 2020

The major cities include: Quebec City, London, Hamilton, Region of Waterloo, Halifax, Calgary, Region of Peel, Montreal, Winnipeg, Surrey, Edmonton, Ottawa, Vancouver, Toronto and Capital Regional District (British Columbia).

Canada’s biggest city, Toronto, will get the lion’s share of that funding pie with about $203 million.

The funding will go towards the cities in the “next couple of days,” Ahmed Hussen, minister of families, children and social development, said at the media conference.

Read more: Federal government commits $1B for cities to buy motels, hotels for rapid-housing program

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Hussen said another $500 million will be up for grabs for projects that will have to be completed within 12 months of federal officials giving the green light for funding.

Hussen has previously said he hopes to have most of the money spent before March 2021, when the federal fiscal year ends.

— With files from the Canadian Press