On October 30, 2023, NICHI hosted a webinar to introduce NICHI, details about funding allocation and the process to apply for it.
Capital Funding Questions:
1. How do Indigenous non-profits housing organizations apply for capital builds?
The same process will be used as applying for Capacity & Organizational Development funding, i.e. access to the application is through the portal on the NICHI website and once the application page opens, you will need to determine which funding category is applicable. You can only apply for one stream per application so if you are seeking Capital as well as Capacity & Organizational Development funds, you will need to make a separate application for each category. It’s suggested but not required, that for Capital builds, you may want to include a preliminary design plan with your application.
2. Does this funding support capital and infrastructure builds as well?
Yes, It supports capital for housing projects, not infrastructure. Organizations that are looking for funding for large scale projects, major renovations, or new builds can apply. Projects that are looking for financial supports in excess of $1 million up to $10 million.
3. Can capital funds be used to increase the level of affordability within an existing housing project?
Capital funding could be used to address operating costs and in so doing, address affordability issues with the project itself. However, Capital funding cannot be used to subsidize rental payments to achieve affordability.
4. Can the 1 – 10 million be used for capital build shortfall?
If the funds are being used as equity to acquire land or ensure the project is viable they can be considered but they cannot be used for deficit reduction.
5. Can capital finding be layered with other levels of government funding?
If you’re talking about stacking funds with this contribution, there is no issue from the NICHI perspective. You will need however to speak to your government funder as they have their own rules and requirements regarding stacking when it comes to their programs. The caveat which needs to be noted is that this funding is not intended to supplement a shortage of funding under another government program.
6. Who is eligible for this funding? (all provinces and territories)
This fund is available to organizations working in the community housing sector across Canada:
- Off-reserve organizations in urban, rural and northern areas of Canada or First Nations that have housing off reserve in urban, rural or northern areas
- Indigenous led organizations :we define Indigenous-led organizations as:
- board composition is over 50% Indigenous and/or Executive leadership is Indigenous.
- organization serves predominantly First Nation, Inuit or Métis population in your community or region anywhere in Canada.
- To be able to express your organization’s ability to address urgent and unmet need.
- Organization must serve at least one of the three Indigenous group recognize by constitution as First Nation, Metis or Inuit.
7. Will organizations have to submit separate applications for each project they need funding for? Can we submit more than one application for more than one project? Or Is it limited to one application per organization?
Yes. Each project will require a separate application to be completed and submitted.
8. Can self-governing First Nations apply for this money? Can first Nations that have off – reserve housing apply? Do First Nations led housing co-operatives qualify?
Yes. The organization must provide housing, housing supports or services to Indigenous people living away from their home community or off-reserve in urban, rural or northern areas of Canada. No part of this money can be used for any on-reserve housing, or on-reserve housing supports and programs.
9. Will Indigenous non-profit organizations operating on reserve be eligible?
Yes, to the organization itself being situated on-reserve but as per Question 8, no to any project located on-reserve land. Only off reserve housing programs, supports and services will be accepted.
10. Can an Indigenous for-profit partner with an Indigenous non-profit and apply together? Can a non-Indigenous organization partner with an Indigenous organization for funding?
The answer is yes if the project proponent is an Indigenous-led non-profit organization and the for-profit partner is supporting efforts of the non-profit to achieve success. The Contribution Agreement will be with the non-profit organization as the program terms and conditions for this limited funding do not allow funding to flow to a for-profit organization. The non-Indigenous organization will need to provide letters of support from the Indigenous non-profit and speak in detail to the partnership. The application will ask for details on how long the partnership has been active, why/how the partnership began. Be sure to include the future or long terms plans for this partnership and how it will positively support the Indigenous people living in urban, rural and northern areas. It would also be beneficial to explain why the partnership has been necessary.
11. Can Indigenous governments apply or is it for non-profits only?
If you’re asking about First Nations governments, the question has been addressed previously. If you’re asking about the Inuit government the answer is no as they are in receipt of separate funding allocations through Budget 2022. The limited NICHI funding in this short-term program is intended to support the needs of local communities and community organizations.
12. Can an organization buy land with this funding? Can a place like the Artic Hamlet using community land be eligible?
Buying land for the specific project is permitted under the program. Land banking, i.e. buying land and holding it for some point in the future, is not.
13. Can organizations that only do affordable housing apply?
Yes. We are looking at supporting all housing and housing supports/services that fall within the housing continuum. The applicant will need to clearly identify the supports they provide for the individual or family and how it will help them remain in their homes and will continue to ensure they are supported. The applicant will need to express how the funding application will continue to support these individuals and families or provide opportunities for more individuals or families to move along the housing continuum towards affordable housing options that are safe, secure and affordable.
14. Will applications be prioritized if they are data centric? How will this position paper assist us when dealing with the Provincial Government Housing Departments that are not on board with the NICHI position paper? Not all provinces deal with Indigenous people the same way.
The scoring is balanced on expressing the urgent and unmet need that organizations face on a daily basis, the urgent and unmet need that individuals and families face on a day to day basis and is supported by data collection at each stage on entry into the housing continuum or programs and supports that are accessed.
The data will help Indigenous organizations provide solid evidence as to what supports are being heavily accessed and where the shortfalls and gaps are to ensuring everyone has a safe, secure, and affordable home. This data will also support the three distinctions based groups better understand the needs of their people and where they can begin to focus their efforts in the assurance of providing supports for housing, and housing programs and services.
15. Is this only for housing or can shelters, group homes etc. apply?
Yes, any type of housing, housing supports and/or services that will directly support individuals or families accessing safe, secure affordable homes is applicable. Please be sure to thoroughly explain the services provided and how it will provide accessing to housing for those Indigenous individuals or families living in urban, rural and northern areas across Canada.
16. Why is this restricted to non-profit only and not eligible to for profit?
The funding for this allocation is limited with only $281.5million available to address urgent and unmet needs across Canada. As such, it’s important to ensure that this limited funding can be provided fairly and equitably. For this short-term initiative, the eligibility is focused on non-profits only in the hope that it can have the greatest impact addressing the needs. For-profit organizations have other funding sources not available to non-profits so while they are not eligible for this call for Expressions of Need, the hope is that the longer-term funding, announced in Budget 2023, can expand future call outs to include for-profits.
17. Can this funding be stacked with CMHC or other funding sources? Will shovel ready projects that are approved by CMHC and getting support from Indigenous Services Canada and other financial supports qualify for this funding?
This question was answered earlier with the response that yes, the NICHI program will allow the funding to be stacked but that may not hold true for the program requirements in place from other funders. The organization is encouraged to make sure stacking is an acceptable feature before making their application. As noted, the funding is not intended to supplement a shortage of funding under another program.
18. Can there be a mix of market and affordable within the complex or the development plan?
Yes, but the housing component is the only portion acceptable for funding. The market component will need to be separated out of the funding request with no cross over of expenditures between the two components.
19. If multiple nations are part of a consortium could this funding be stacked between four applications for one project?
Yes, multiple First Nations could come together to seek funding for a project of this nature, subject of course to it being developed off Reserve/lands set aside, with each First Nation either sharing the project costs equally or as apportioned. It must still be identified as one project through an incorporated Indigenous-led non-profit organization as the Contribution Agreement is with the non-profit which, we assume, would be the creation of the consortium.
20. Can these funds be used for application development, floorplans, cost estimates, environmental assessments?
Yes, provided the funding is directly related to your project. Not eligible would be land de-contamination, cosmetic repairs or financing expenses such as term loans.
21. Will projects that target homelessness prevention, intervention and harm reduction be eligible? Will operating costs for a non-profit providing services such as housing, employment, inmate housing, and transitional supports be eligible?
Yes. Operating costs and supports for services provided including emergency shelters, homelessness supports, and prevention, interventions and harm reduction are eligible as they provide supports for people that find themselves at the starting point of the housing continuum after losing their home. Emergency shelters provide housing connections and advocacy, case management supports, referrals to community-based supports and services, recovery supports, spiritual or religious care (this list is not exhaustive).
Using the housing continuum as a guide to show how your organization can move a person along the continuum successfully from emergency shelters into transitional or supportive housing, from supportive housing to subsidized housing to affordable rental housing, to market rentals and everything in between.
22. Are there any energy or sustainability criteria that need to be met?
No. This program is focused on urgent and unmet need for Indigenous people living away from their traditional communities (including First Nations reserves) in urban, rural and northern areas. That being said, innovative use of energy efficient technology or construction materials could be looked upon as furthering traditional Indigenous values, especially as they relate to environmental stewardship.
23. Does the organization have already be in housing or can it be providing other services but interested in providing housing?
The organization doesn’t have to already be providing housing but housing must be one of its mandates within its incorporation, i.e. an Indigenous-led housing or housing service provider.
24. What are the reporting requirements for the funding?
All those details will be addressed in the Contribution Agreement Terms and Conditions but the intent for NICHI is to keep these as simple and straightforward as possible.
Allocations Questions :
25. What are the details of the funding allocations?
This fund will be looking at two main streams of financial support, those being a Capacity & Organizational Development stream and a Capital Development stream.
- Capacity & Organizational Development:
- Up to $1 million targeted to project development, on the ground assistance, operational shortfalls and other project development requirements such as modernization and improvement needed to ensure project success/continuity.
- Capital Development
- Project funding requirements in excess of $1 million up to $10 million needed fund large scale projects, major renovations, new builds, etc.
26. Is there a role for Municipal Governments to supports NICHI and housing organizations, and what does that look like?
Yes, there is absolutely a role for municipal governments. Support can take a variety of approaches such as flexible zoning provisions, waving or reducing taxes, levies or fees for Indigenous housing projects, working with NICHI to advocate for Indigenous housing initiatives and funding at a provincial and municipal level as well as ensuring the non-Indigenous population is kept aware of the Indigenous housing needs in their communities and how NICHI, the municipal government and Indigenous housing organizations can work together to respond to those needs.
27. How close to shovel ready do projects need to be? Are predevelopment costs covered by this funding?
The type of expenditures considered eligible range from project to project but include such things as the purchase of buildings and lands, materials and supplies, professional fees, tendering costs, feasibility and design studies, permits/fees among others. The important point to remember is that the funding must be targeted to a specific project which will lead to addressing the urgent and unmet housing needs of Indigenous people living away from their traditional communities. Some projects will be shovel ready, some will need time to develop with the expectation that this work can be achieved within the timelines established by Canada for the funding.
28. Is this a loan or grant program?
It is neither. It’s Contribution Funding with the funding Terms and Conditions outlined in the Contribution Agreement to be created between NICHI and the successful applicant organization.
29. Will the projects need to be completed by March 31, 2025?
It is intended that all $281.5m in funds have been allocated and expended by March 31, 2025 but we know that there will be issues with delays and such things as shortened construction seasons limiting the ability to meet that deadline in some instances. Government has expressed a willingness to work with NICHI to accommodate projects in situations where the deadline will need to be exceeded due to circumstances beyond their control.
30. Is the Business Case and other pertinent documents available for public viewing?
The Business Case is not considered a public document for sharing but NICHI is happy to discuss the various elements of it and the thinking behind it. The Business Case was NICHI’s submission to government to respond to the housing gap that exists for urban, rural and northern Indigenous peoples and was successful in that regard by being able to secure the $281.5m in funding. This initiative only addresses the short-term funding announced in Budget 2022.
31. Is the Project Selection Advisory Board involved with application review?
Yes. The PSAC has been instrumental in developing the allocation process and framework including the design and development of program criteria, application form development and the formal review process. NICHI has partnered with the Community Housing Transformation Centre (CHTC) to create an application platform accessed through a portal located on the NICHI website. NICHI and CHTC will work together to ensure all required information is submitted so that final review and scoring can be completed. All information will be treated securely, comply with provisions under the Privacy Act as well as protect and respect Indigenous knowledge and intellectual property. The process is as follows.
The application will come through the NICHI portal which will be located on the NICHI website. It will then ‘land’ on the NICHI platform created by CHTC.
The application is then screened to ensure that ALL eligibility components are met.
Step 2 (a): If there are some eligibility requirements that are NOT met or there is more information needed, CHTC, on behalf of NICHI, will contact the applicant and gather the information required.
Step 2 (b): If there are any issues or concerns which cannot be addressed by the CHTC on NICHIs behalf then the application will be directed to NICHI for follow up and resolution.
Once the application has been screened and ALL eligibility requirements have been met, CHTC will then redact all identifiers and send the application on to the Project Selection Advisory Council (PSAC) for their review and scoring.
Once all of the applications have been reviewed and scored, the PSAC will look at all of the scores and make determinations on who are the successful applicants.
Letters to successful applicants will be drawn up by NICHI and contact will be made.
32. How does NICHI define the “north” and what do the boundaries look like for parts of Canada that are very northern but in areas such as Nunavut, Yukon, Northwest Territories etc.?
NICHI will look to the proponent to advise if they are to be considered as “north”. There is the obvious geographic definition of the north through the government boundaries which created Yukon, NWT and Nunavut but we know that these borders do not define Indigenous peoples and Indigenous communities. Many communities in the far north of each Province align themselves with their traditional territories and cultural groupings which are north of the provincial boundary. An example of this situation are the First Nations in northern BC who look north to the Yukon rather than south.
33. Are British Columbia First Nations that are south of the Yukon border considered part of the Yukon traditional territory considered north (ISC and CMHC consider them part of the Yukon Region)?
Same as above question # 32
34. With increasing cost pressures can an organization apply for a project already underway but may be experiencing a shortfall to complete?
If the project is unable to secure the funding for a project already underway then they may be eligible to look to this funding to assist. The one caveat has been noted earlier with respect to stacking of program funds and the issue government has with supplementing shortfall.
35. Why are the names of the Project Selection Advisory Council not being provided to the public?
We have been asked on a few occasions to release the names of the Council but have not done so for two reasons. The first is that the Council needs to be able to undertake its work in an unbiased and uninfluenced manner and if the individuals are well known as Council members, there is always the potential for them to be contacted about a proposed project or asked to provide feedback on specific elements which would then require them to recuse themselves from the review process. By not having their names in the public domain, we are able to protect them and their responsibilities as per the Terms of Reference they have all agreed to respect. The second reason is that the Council members themselves have asked that we not release their names until after the selection process is completed with projects announced, in late January 2024. When the time comes, we will be acknowledging their important contribution and participation.
36. What are the expected response times for the successful applicants to be announced and how long will it take for the money to be released?
The application portal opens November 24, 2023 and closes January 12, 2024. Announcement of successful applicants will be announced January 26, 2024. The money will be released within a few weeks of all documentation having been signed and approved.
37. Can you provide more detail as to housing projects or programs within the housing continuum?
Any projects that fall anywhere within the housing continuum below are applicable.
Emergency shelters provide housing connections and advocacy, case management supports, referrals to community-based supports and services, recovery supports, spiritual or religious care. (this list is not exhaustive).
This type of housing provides safe, supportive and semi-independent living where people can access the programs they need to rebuild their lives and make the transition from homelessness and marginalization to stable, safe and secure housing.
Community Housing also known as Social Housing or Subsidized Housing
Community Housing is housing that is offered at below market rates so that it is more affordable for low-income households. Community housing is typically provided by organizations whose mandates are to offer affordable housing options to those living on or below the poverty line.
Affordable rent is a rent cost that is less than 30% of the pre-tax income being spent on adequate shelter.
Affordable Home Ownership
Government and non-profit organizations do have access to programs that offer low-income homeowners’ subsidies and financing for down payments and energy efficiency projects.
Organizations that work in housing and housing support services help individuals and families move along the housing continuum supporting them when and where they need it. It is the goal of housing and service providers to help support individuals and families move from housing instability to housing security. It is NICHI’s goal to help connect and support organizations in providing a holistic approach to acquiring safe, affordable and dignified housing.
38. Will you score higher if you cost share?
The PSAC will be reviewing and scoring all of the applications as they come through the door with them having the judgement as to how any project is ranked. A scoring matrix has been developed and will be discussed at the Webinar on November 16th.
39. If projects are already underway can NICHI back date agreements or start before agreements are signed?
If we understand the question, we assume a project is already underway but has applied to NICHI because it’s experiencing issues which are preventing it from reaching completion. We wouldn’t have had a funding agreement in place so there is no need to back-date. If a project starts after having been announced as “selected” by NICHI but hasn’t yet signed its Contribution Agreement, it’s risking money it doesn’t yet have and may not have, if there are problems in getting the Contribution Agreement signed. The bottom line is that no NICHI funding will flow to any selected project until the Contribution Agreement is in place and signed by both parties.