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Reaching Home: Canada’s Homelessness Strategy Directives

1. Introduction

Reaching Home is a community-based program that aims to prevent and reduce homelessness by providing direct support and funding to Designated Communities (urban centres), Indigenous communities, territorial communities, and rural and remote communities across Canada. It also funds projects that support capacity-building and innovation for the broader homeless-serving sector.

The Reaching Home directives outline minimum requirements and provide guidance specific to the following:

  • Eligible activities and expenses;
  • The Homeless Individuals and Families Information System (HIFIS);
  • Coordinated Access, and the Outcomes-Based Approach;
  • Planning and Public Reporting;
  • Community and Regional Advisory Boards;
  • Capital projects; and,
  • Official language minority communities.

A number of examples have been provided within the directives to illustrate eligible activities; however, these are not necessarily exhaustive. Any distinctly prohibited activities are identified as such.

Indigenous peoples have the right to be actively involved in determining and developing health, housing, and other economic and social programs affecting them, in addition to administering such programs through their own institutions. Accordingly, these directives include provisions for Indigenous-led or co-developed culturally competent homelessness programming, in keeping with the Indigenous homelessness definition in the documentFootnote 1.

Given that homelessness is a shared responsibility between federal, provincial, territorial, Indigenous and municipal governments, coordination across all orders of government, Indigenous partners, and the not-for-profit and private sectors is necessary. The expectation is that Reaching Home funded communities will leverage the suite of initiatives that are available to them and work in partnership to address homelessness alongside complementary federal, provincial, territorial, and municipal programming. Meaningful collaboration across orders of government, including local Indigenous governments (e.g., Nations) must be ensured. This requires ongoing, intentional engagement, and an understanding of local Indigenous governance structures, protocols, and decision-making processes.

The Reaching Home directives apply to the Designated Communities (DC), Indigenous Homelessness (IH), Rural and Remote Homelessness (RRH), and Territorial Homelessness (TH) streams under the program, as well as capacity-building funding that may be provided under the Community Capacity and Innovation stream for the Homeless Individuals and Families Information System (HIFIS), Coordinated Access, and the Outcomes-Based Approach. Infrastructure Canada has committed to working with distinctions-based partners in the co-development and implementation of approaches that will respond to the unique needs of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis experiencing or at-risk of homelessness. As such, while these recipients are bound by the program’s Terms and Conditions, the directives do not apply to recipients of Distinctions-Based fundingFootnote 2.

With regard to program requirements, Designated Communities and territorial capitals funded under the Territorial Homelessness streams are required to use HIFIS (or an existing, equivalent Homelessness Management Information System) and to implement, maintain, and improve upon a Coordinated Access system and an Outcomes-Based Approach.

  • HIFIS, Coordinated Access and an Outcomes-Based Approach are not required under the Rural and Remote Homelessness, the non-designated Indigenous Homelessness stream, or in communities where the only funding received is under the Indigenous Homelessness stream; however, Community Entities funded under these streams are encouraged to implement each in their efforts to prevent and reduce homelessness.
  • Where Designated Communities and Indigenous Homelessness streams co-exist, Community Entities for the Indigenous Homelessness stream are expected to collaborate with Community Entities for the Designated Communities stream in some core program elements (e.g., Community Plan, Community Homelessness Report, use of HIFIS, Coordinated Access and/or the Outcomes-Based Approach). Indigenous Homelessness Community Entities receive Community Capacity and Innovation funding for this purpose. For example, Indigenous Homelessness Community Entities can support ongoing improvements in service coordination, support data management, support access to the Coordinated Access system through referrals, help to develop the local Community Plan and Community Homelessness Report, and participate as members of local governance groups or tables. These engagements are intended to be bi-directional and Community Entities for both streams should take into consideration the priorities of their counterparts.

While not a core program requirement, Housing First remains a federal priority for all funding streams, recognizing that immediate access to permanent housing is the solution to homelessness, and that some people will need additional support to establish and maintain their housing, particularly those with deeper levels of need or longer periods of housing instability.

2. Definitions

The following homelessness-related definitions are intended to help communities (1) develop a framework for understanding and describing homelessness, (2) identify goals, strategies and interventions, and (3) measure outcomes and progress. The definitions provided have no impact on program eligibility.

Homelessness

The situation of an individual or family who does not have a permanent address or residence, and does not have the immediate prospect, means, and ability of acquiring it. More specifically, homeless episodes can include time spent:

  • In emergency shelters (permanent or overflow beds);
  • In unsheltered locations or places not intended for human habitation (e.g., parks);
  • Staying temporarily with others (e.g., family or friends) without guarantee of continued residency (“couch surfing”); or,
  • In short-term rentals with no security of tenure (e.g., paying for motels with income or savings).

Chronic homelessnessFootnote 3

Refers to persistent or long-term homelessness where people have:

  • Been homeless for at least 180 days at some point over the course of a year (not necessarily consecutive days); and/or,
  • Recurrent episodes of homelessness over three years that total at least 18 months.

The measure of chronicity only includes time spent in the following living situations:

  • Emergency shelters (permanent or overflow beds, including those for people experiencing domestic violence);
  • Unsheltered locations or places not intended for human habitation (e.g., parks);
  • Staying temporarily with others (e.g., family or friends) without guarantee of continued residency (“couch surfing”); and,
  • Short-term rentals with no security of tenure (e.g., paying for motels with income or savings).

It does not include time spent in transitional housing or public institutions (e.g., hospital or corrections), although people who are discharged into homelessness from these living situations can be considered chronically homeless if they were experiencing chronic homelessness upon entry to transitional housing or a public institution.

Indigenous homelessnessFootnote 4

Recognizing the diversity of Indigenous peoples in Canada, and that Indigenous peoples may choose to refer to themselves in their own languages, the following definition of Indigenous homelessness is inclusive of First Nations, Métis, and Inuit, status and non-status persons, regardless of residency or membership status.

For the purposes of Reaching Home, and subject to revision based on ongoing engagement and consultation with Indigenous peoplesFootnote 5, Indigenous homelessness refers to “Indigenous peoples who are in the state of having no home due to colonization, trauma and/or whose social, cultural, economic, and political conditions place them in poverty. Having no home includes: those who alternate between shelter and unsheltered, living on the street, couch surfing, using emergency shelters, living in unaffordable, inadequate, substandard and unsafe accommodations or living without the security of tenure; anyone regardless of age, released from facilities (such as hospitals, mental health and addiction treatment centers, prisons, transition houses), fleeing unsafe homes as a result of abuse in all its definitions, and any youth transitioning from all forms of care”.

For a complete list of Reaching Home-related definitions, see the Homelessness Glossary for Communities.

3. Eligible Activities and Expenses

Eligible activities and expenses under Reaching Home are broadly defined in the program Terms and Conditions. The information below is intended to help clarify and expand upon that informationFootnote 6.

Reaching Home will fund activities that contribute to the program objectives of preventing and reducing homelessness, while reflecting local realities, needs and opportunities. Eligible activities and expenses are grouped into five (5) main categories of activities directed at achieving the program objective, plus administration expenses:

  1. Housing Services;
  2. Prevention and Shelter Diversion;
  3. Client Support Services;
  4. Capital Investments;
  5. Coordination of Resources and Data Quality Improvement; and,
  6. Administration.

These eligible activities and expenditures apply to all funding streams, with a small number of clearly identified exceptions. Note that eligible activities and expenses can include culturally appropriate activities for Indigenous peoples that have similar objectives to the program.

Examples of Indigenous-specific activities are intended to help illustrate and inform, especially with regard to a broader audience of administrators, auditors, and other users who may not be familiar with First Nations, Inuit, and Métis cultural practices and ways of supporting well-being. For the most part, the activities themselves would be determined through community-based decision making by First Nations, Inuit, and Métis.

3.1 Housing Services Eligible Activities and Expenses

Housing services are those that lead to an individual or family transitioning into more safe, appropriate and stable housing. Forms of housing could include:

  • Transitional, supportive, and social housing;
  • Living arrangements with friends or family members that are expected to be long-term; and,
  • Indigenous housing options that reflect Indigenous values, beliefs and practices (e.g., community or family living environment) and are delivered by Indigenous organizations.

Eligible activities include:

3.1.1 Housing Attainment

  • Determining an individual’s or family’s needs and preferences for housing and related supports.
  • Securing housing by working with private and public local real estate, landlord associations, and home communities (e.g., First Nation band, Inuit community, or Métis settlements).
  • Providing landlord-tenant services for an individual or family that has moved into housing. This includes, for example, mediation and problem-solving when a person is first housed (e.g., within the first three months).
  • Providing more intensive housing search support (e.g., accompaniment to viewings).
  • Re-housing (if required).

3.1.2  Short-term Rental Assistance

  • Within parameters that are established by the community, funding to help cover housing costs in the short term (up to a maximum of six months) while people wait for longer-term rental assistance, including the Canada Housing Benefit or benefits from provincial, territorial or municipal programs.
  • Short-term financial assistance in the context of a rapid re-housing project (up to a maximum of six months).
  • Paying the cost of a maximum of one month of rent for a market rental unit to hold it for a new tenant exiting homelessness.

3.1.3  Housing Set-Up

  • Activities that cover costs associated with setting up a housing unit, including: insurance, damage deposit, first and last months’ rent, maintenance (e.g., painting), moving, furniture, basic groceries and supplies at move-in, etc. Available to all individuals and families, not just those in receipt of Short-term Rental Assistance.

Ineligible activities include:

  • Providing landlords with an incentive or bonus (financial or non-financial) to rent to people exiting homelessness.
  • Covering housing set-up costs before other funding sources have been exhausted (i.e., provincial, territorial or municipal social assistance or other programs that cover first and last month’s rent or damage deposits must be used first).
  • Rent-to-own programs.
  • Providing Short-term Rental Assistance to individuals or families already receiving provincial, territorial or municipal social assistance or rental assistance programs for the same purpose.
  • Level of funding provided for Short-term Rental Assistance by the service provider must not exceed amount of financial assistance available from provincial, territorial or municipal rental assistance programs.
  • Providing long-term rental assistance (i.e., providing financial assistance for housing costs beyond the eligible activities described).

3.2 Prevention and Shelter Diversion Eligible Activities and Expenses

Prevention is an intervention that provides support to people before a crisis occurs, aiming to reduce risks and prevent homelessness. Homelessness prevention includes supporting people who are currently housed, but at imminent risk of losing their housing. It also includes supporting people who are being discharged from public systems (e.g., health, correctional, and child welfare) from being discharged to emergency shelter or the street (inflowing into homelessness as a result).

Note: Imminent risk of homelessness refers to a housing situation that will end in the near future (e.g., within two weeks) where the household does not have the immediate prospect, means or ability of acquiring a subsequent residence.

Examples of homelessness prevention interventions include:

  • Problem solving with landlords to stop an eviction.
  • Working with family and other natural supports to prevent loss of housing for youth.
  • Making referrals to prevent relationship breakdown (e.g., family counselling or mediation).
  • Providing short-term or emergency financial assistance (e.g., to cover the costs of rent or utility arrears, cleaning/repairs to a rental unit so that it is safe, or groceries to help with that month’s budget).
  • Finding another housing option before a tenancy ends, or before a youth ages out of care or leaves a family home.

Shelter diversion is an intervention that helps people who are seeking access to emergency shelter to explore other safe and appropriate alternatives.

Examples of shelter diversion strategies include:

  • Problem solving to find places where people can stay (even for a few days), such as with a neighbour, a friend or family.
  • Providing flex funds (small grants) to cover transportation costs or groceries, to make the transition to the alternative housing option easier.
  • Supporting people to move directly into housing when they leave public institutions (e.g., hospital, corrections, or child welfare), so they are not discharged into homelessness.

As needed, shelter diversion may be complemented with follow-up support, to help people secure a more permanent housing option in the near future. For example, workers could reconnect with people that were diverted from shelter within a day or two, to help them with a housing search and follow-up on referrals.

Note: Shelter diversion helps people who are experiencing homelessness or being discharged from a public institution and seeking access to emergency shelter, while prevention helps people who are housed, but are at imminent risk of homelessness.

Eligible activities include:

  • Discharge planning services for individuals being released from public systems (e.g., hospital stay, corrections, and child welfare) who are at-risk of being discharged into homelessness.
  • Expenses related to responding to emergency situations (e.g., wildfires, floods, building fires ) that are tied directly to supporting people experiencing or at imminent risk of homelessness.
  • Help obtaining or retaining housing, including shared housing.
  • Enhancing family and natural supports, including helping families, including extended families, to keep young people at home, and strengthening their attachment to school.
  • Landlord liaison and interventions to prevent eviction and preserve tenancies.
  • Advice on budgeting, credit counseling and debt consolidation.
  • Legal advice, advocacy and legal representation in order to avert eviction.
  • Emergency assistance to help avert eviction (e.g., paying for groceries, clothing, transportation vouchers, diapers and formula, cleaning/repair of damage to a rental unit).
  • Moving costs.
  • Short-term financial assistance to help avert eviction or loss of housing. Can include assistance with rent, utility deposits or payments, or arrears (rental or utility).
  • Ineligible activities include: 
  • Provision or payment for student housing for students who are not at imminent risk of homelessness.
  • Supports for low-income individuals or families who are not at imminent risk of homelessness.
  • Down payments and mortgage payments or repairs to privately owned property.
  • The creation of a rent bank to provide loans.

3.3 Client Support Services

Client support services help improve the integration and connectedness to support services, such as the provision of basic needs and treatment services. This may also include services related to the economic, social and cultural integration of individuals and families, which support them to access and retain housing.

3.3.1 Basic Needs Services

Funding for basic needs services support outcomes that contribute to a reduction in homelessness. For example, short-term food and emergency shelter assistance are eligible activities as a means to assist people experiencing homelessness to obtain more stable housing. Longer-term food programs can also be funded if they are part of another intervention that is considered an eligible activity. For Indigenous people, funding could support culturally appropriate services and connection with community (e.g., local and/or home community, including First Nation band, Métis settlement).

Eligible activities include:

  • Essential services related to the provision of emergency shelter beds, food and shelter, including shower and laundry facilities, food banks, soup kitchens, community kitchens and drop-in centres.
  • Supplies to support individuals experiencing unsheltered homelessness, such as tarps, tents, sleeping bags and other basic goods as part of broader outreach efforts to connect people with housing.
  • Longer-term food programs that are part of another eligible activity (e.g., activities that assist with community reintegration). Groceries, personal hygiene and supplies.
  • Clothing, footwear and blankets.
  • Storage for belongings (up to three months).
  • Access to traditional foods and medicines.
  • Culturally relevant supports for Indigenous peoples (e.g., cultural ceremonies, traditional supports and activities with the goal of increasing cultural connections and an individual’s sense of belonging in a community).
  • Repair or replacement of eyeglasses (if not otherwise covered through medical services).
  • Access to disability and/or functional assessments, if not covered by a provincial/territorial government. For example, a report from a qualified professional in the field, accredited by the appropriate regulated professional association that will assist the individual in accessing broader supports, such as employment, income, and housing.
  • Disability supports (e.g., mobility and other assistive devices if not otherwise covered through medical services).
  • Personal identification.
  • Access to technology (e.g., phones, community voice mail, safe apps, and computers) in a community setting (e.g., in a resource or drop-in centre).
  • Transportation to home community (mileage eligibility to be determined by community).
  • Transportation (e.g., bus tickets or taxi chits) to shelter and other emergency housing services.
  • Access to oral care programs (if not covered by a provincial/territorial government).

Ineligible activities include:

  • Purchase of alcoholic beverages, tobacco for personal use (e.g., cigarettes), cannabis, and illicit substances.

3.3.2 Clinical and Treatment Services

Clinical and treatment services are activities that seek to improve the physical, emotional and psychological health and well-being of individuals and families who are experiencing or at imminent risk of homelessness, to support them to access and retain housing.

Eligible activities include:

  • Brokering and navigating access to clinical, health and treatment services (includes mental health and addictions support) through case management, including through an Intensive Case Management team.
  • Partnership development, liaison and integration to bring together services to support the needs of individuals or families; or to establish case management teams where none exists.
  • Delivery of harm reduction activities that seek to reduce risk and connect individuals and families with key health and social services. These activities may include, for instance:
    • The storage, distribution and provision of materials and/or supplies (e.g., needles), prevention interventions (e.g., targeted programming to prevent substance abuse for youth experiencing or at imminent risk of homelessness, managed alcohol programs, connecting individuals to harm reduction services).
  • Services and supports to help address the housing-related impacts of a mental health issue (e.g., cleaning services for hoarding situations).
  • Professional fees and gifts for services provided in support of Indigenous peoples (e.g., services provided by Indigenous Elders or traditional healers). The value of professional fees, gifts or honoraria must be proportional to the service rendered and should not exceed the reasonable and customary amount for each service.
  • Supports to access traditional or culturally sensitive healing services (e.g., healing circles, sweat lodges ceremonies, access to traditional medicines such as tobacco and sage) that are not offered through provincial/territorial programming. Eligibility is not based on service location (e.g., may be local or require travel to a non-local Indigenous community).

Ineligible activities include:

  • Professional or other fees for clinical, health and treatment services and supports (e.g., nursing support services, medical assessments, and mental health and addictions supports.)

3.3.3 Economic Integration Services

Economic integration services are activities that seek to bridge individuals experiencing or at imminent risk of homelessness to existing employment programs, remove barriers to employment or support skill enrichment to facilitate labour market readiness, to support them to access and retain housing.

Eligible activities include:

  • Income assistance: Services to connect individuals and families to existing income benefits and financial assistance (e.g., provincial/territorial social assistance, child benefits, disability benefits, Veterans allowance, old age security, or employment insurance).
  • Employment assistance: Pre- and post-employment services (e.g., job search assistance, interview preparation) that bridge individuals to the labour market and assist them to maintain employment and build self-sufficiency.
  • Connecting individuals and families to education and training programs, and services to support the successful participation in these programs (e.g., bus passes, clothing or equipment, food and non-alcoholic beverages, childcare costs, and internet access for the duration of the program).
  • Job training services such as essential skills development (e.g., reading, document use, numeracy, writing, oral communication, working with others, critical thinking, computer use and continuous learning); and/or life skills (e.g., job interview training, anger management, sessions on healthy relationships, parenting skills development, effective communication, budgeting, cooking, or healthy eating).

Ineligible activities include:

  • Employment activities normally delivered by other federal, provincial or territorial labour market programs.
  • Job wages for individuals participating in an education, training, or pre-employment program.
  • Direct provision of wages to program participants for casual work (e.g., paying a participant or person staying in a shelter to do odd jobs).
  • Salary for a full-time teacher to provide an alternative to provincial or territorial education.
  • Tuition.
  • Workplace skills development.
  • Apprenticeship grants.

3.3.4 Social and Community Integration Services

Social and community integration services are supports to improve social and community integration of individuals and families experiencing or at imminent risk of homelessness, to support them to access and retain housing. This includes a broad range of services essential to improving well-being and long-term self-sufficiency.

Eligible activities include:

  • Supports to improve social integration, for example, costs of participation or provision of recreational/sports activities, cultural programs, support groups, and access to peer supports and mentorship for youth.
  • Enhancing family and natural supports for youth.
  • Indigenous Elder consultation, gathering and preparation of traditional foods.
  • Establishing and maintaining culturally relevant responses and supports to help Indigenous individuals and families (e.g., navigation of urban services, including to help establish and maintain culturally relevant support networks within an urban environment; Indigenous language and culture classes).

3.4 Capital InvestmentsFootnote 7

Capital investments are intended to increase the capacity or improve the quality of facilities that address the needs of individuals and families experiencing or at imminent risk of homelessness, including those that support culturally appropriate programming for Indigenous peoples. Recognizing that immediate access to permanent housing is the solution to homelessness, and that some people will need additional support to establish and maintain their housing, investments should be guided by a Housing First approach and must meet the following criteria:

  • Reaching Home funding must be used exclusively to serve people experiencing or at imminent risk of homelessness.
  • Investments in residential facilities must be paired with integrated wrap-around services to support people in attaining and maintaining stable housing.
  • Planning activities for capital investments should include coordination with provincial/territorial and municipal governments, including letters of support for financing, in order to:
    • Ensure financial sustainability for at least five (5) years after project completion; and,
    • Ensure adequate service provision (i.e., wraparound supports) for people experiencing or at imminent risk of homelessness for at least five (5) years after project completion.
    • In all cases, Reaching Home funding cannot duplicate or displace other funding, or exceed 100% of eligible expenditures.
  • Please see section 9 to review requirements for capital investments using Reaching Home funding (e.g., the identification of financial resources to implement the project, ongoing operation for the intended purpose, and the identification and justification of the choice of land or building).

Reaching Home funding may be used for eligible capital investments for the following types of facilities (stream-specific details on eligible activities are provided below):

  • Emergency shelters
    • temporary, short-term accommodation for people experiencing homelessness. At minimum, emergency shelters provide overnight accommodation. Programs may also provide access to food, personal supplies, help with housing searches or support services (case management). Emergency shelter excludes motel or hotel stays that are paid for privately (e.g., with income or savings). 
  • Transitional housing
    • temporary, time-limited housing with support (case management) that is appropriate for the target population group (e.g., youth, newcomers or Indigenous peoples). For example, programming could focus on developing the necessary skills to be able to live more independently. Stays are typically longer than shelter, with guidelines that range from three months to three years. 
    • Programs usually have eligibility requirements, may only accept referrals and people may be expected to contribute financially toward their stay (e.g., using social assistance benefits). The goal is that people are helped to transition to some form of permanent housing at discharge.
  • Supportive housing (fixed-site or place-based) 
    • Permanent housing (no time limit) with rental assistance and individualized, flexible support services (case management) for people with greater depth of need (acuity) related to physical or mental health, developmental disabilities, and/or substance use. Within the homeless-serving system, tenants were either homeless prior to intake and/or remain at-risk of homelessness.
    • Supportive housing provides a physical environment that is designed to be safe, secure, and home-like. Support services aim to maximize independence, privacy and dignity. Rents are affordable to people with lower incomes.
    • Housing support strategies can include coordinating access to more specialized and/or clinical services (e.g., medical care or psychiatrists), skill-building to reduce depth of need (acuity) in areas of life that create risks to a tenancy (e.g., budgeting, landlord mediation, and keeping the unit clean), accompaniment to appointments, help with engaging in meaningful activities, and ensuring people have someone to call when issues arise.
  • Non-Residential Facility
    • Provision of services to meet basic needs and/or provide services to promote longer-term stability of people experiencing or at-risk of homelessness (e.g. community kitchen, drop-in centre, etc.).

Eligible activities include:

  • Renovation of emergency shelters, transitional housing, supportive housing, or non-residential facilities, including:
    • Renovating an existing facility for upgrades and to meet building standards. Renovations may include meeting accessibility standards and/or accessibility needs of clients.
  • Removing asbestos, mold, rodents.
  • Repurposing an existing property to create transitional housing or supportive housing, and expanding an existing facility.
  • Repairs of damages resulting from move-ins to housing (including private market housing).
  • New construction of transitional or supportive housing, or non-residential facilities (e.g., community hubs to include furniture banks, drop-in centres, resource centres, outreach worker spaces, counselling spaces, laundry facilities, food banks), including, if applicable, tearing down an existing facility to build a new one.
  • Purchase of transitional housing, or permanent supportive housing, and non-residential facilities to create new space or units.
  • Eligible costs related to professional fees, such as consultants, audit, technical expertise, facilitation, legal, and construction contractors, and capital costs of the purchase of a land or building.
    • This may include stand-alone pre-development costs (such as an environmental impact assessment) provided the intent of the project to address the needs of people experiencing or at imminent risk of homelessness is clear.
  • Purchase or construction of new emergency shelters using funding from Indigenous, Territorial and Rural and Remote streams.
  • Purchase of furniture, appliances, machinery (e.g., lawnmower, woodworking tools), electronic equipment and vehicles (e.g., to be used for outreach, or transportation for furniture banks).
  • Capital investments in transitional and supportive housing units can be offered in a mixed-use building, including social/community housing or privately owned housing. Social housing or community housing refers to subsidized housing for low-income tenants, including units in buildings owned by non-profits, co-ops or governments. In all cases, capital investments under Reaching Home are only applicable to units dedicated to people exiting homelessness and paired with wrap-around supports.

Ineligible activities include:

  • Construction and renovation of housing units not exclusively intended for people experiencing or at imminent risk of homelessness, including those funded through the bilateral Housing Partnership Framework agreementFootnote 8 with the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation and most provinces/territoriesFootnote 9.
    • While Reaching Home funding can contribute towards capital costs to create new units per the above eligible activities, it cannot be used to create, renovate or repair housing units, including social housing, that are not solely intended for people experiencing homelessness and paired with wrap-around supports. 
    • For eligible capital investments, stacking up to 100% with other funding sources is allowable, including federal and provincial/territorial sources, but only if the capital project is intended for people experiencing homelessness and paired with wrap-around supports.
  • Purchase or construction of new emergency shelters using funding from the Designated Communities stream.
  • Renovation or repairs to private personal property or social housing / community housing that is not solely intended for people experiencing homelessness and paired with wrap-around supports.

3.5 Coordination of Resources and Data Quality ImprovementFootnote 10

Coordination of resources refers to activities that: (1) enable communities to organize and deliver a range of services to address homelessness in a coordinated manner, (2) support the implementation, as well as maintenance and improvement in the use of the Homeless Individuals and Families Information System (HIFIS), and/or (3) support data governance and data management efforts to improve data quality to meet or maintain federal Coordinated Access and Outcomes-Based Approach requirements.

Eligible activities include:

  • Mapping the housing and homeless-serving system to identify existing programs and services, and assess current capacity, program funders, and program requirements.
  • Maintaining and/or improving the core components of a Coordinated Access system, including:
    • Developing new or strengthening existing partnerships with service providers and other community organizations (e.g., between healthcare and housing providers and local Indigenous partners).
    • Implementing, maintaining and improving governance structures.
    • Implementing, maintaining and improving data management tools (e.g., data sharing agreements, consent forms).
    • Delivering change management activities, such as developing and implementing a communication strategy (e.g., printed or web-based communications, training, including travel to Coordinated Access or HIFIS training).
    • Implementing, maintaining, and improving access points, the triage and assessment process, and/or the vacancy matching and referral process.
    • Implementing, maintaining, and improving triage and/or assessment tool(s).
    • Implementing, maintaining, and improving service navigation and/or case conferencing processes and tools.
    • Implementing and improving the quality and use of person-specific data for homelessness, which is used to generate a Unique Identifier List.
    • Increasing provider participation, including increasing the number of providers that update person-specific data for homelessness in real-time. This includes providers working across the community, regardless of how they are funded, as well as temporary services (such as temporary shelters).
  • Hiring staff for Coordinated Access, HIFIS, and other project activities
    • Consultant fees or staff wages (e.g., community coordinator, data analyst, and information technology (IT)), and the corresponding benefits and mandatory employment related costs (e.g., Canadian Pension Plan, Québec Pension Plan, Employment Insurance, etc.)Footnote 11.
  • Acquiring hardware/software IT infrastructure, such as a HIFIS server and other necessary IT equipment, and related office furniture (e.g., computers, laptops, and tablets).
  • Additional support as necessary (e.g., legal advice, network security, development of tailored HIFIS reports, development and maintenance of data visualizations).
  • Developing partnerships to support a broader systems-based approach to addressing homelessness (e.g., partnerships with health services, corrections, and housing providers).
  • Conducting Point-in-Time Counts or surveys of homeless populations (e.g., coordinator, assistant coordinator, data analyst, project supplies, printing, training, and meeting space).
  • Projects, training and capacity-building in support of a coordinated, systems-based and data-driven approach to prevent and reduce homelessness, including testing new approaches, evaluation and sharing best practices.
  • Informing the public and soliciting feedback on activities intended to prevent and reduce homelessness.

Ineligible activities include:

  • Software and/or hardware purchase and/or development for the collection and management of homelessness data that constitutes a redundant use of funds and duplicates activities already offered through HIFIS.
  • Administrative costs associated with administering a third-party agreement must be claimed under the category of Administration.

Communities may also undertake activities that improve the overall quality of data on homelessness. These activities may be unrelated to Coordinated Access and HIFIS but enhance understanding of local homelessness issues, and help support decision-making and longer-term planning.

Eligible data collection activities and expenses include:

  • Collection and management of data to demonstrate accountability, support decision-making and develop an understanding of homelessness.
  • Activities intended to build partnerships for data collection, management, sharing, and analysis, including partnerships with local Indigenous communities.
  • Gathering, sharing and disseminating information with the Community Advisory Board and other interested parties.
  • Technical support for data collection, management, sharing, and analysis.
  • Purchase of equipment to collect and compile data.

Ineligible data collection activities include:

  • Local research other than the data collection activities described under eligible activities and expenses.
  • Information gathered or refocused primarily for the purpose of advocacy, public education or awareness. This includes funding for any advocacy, public education or awareness campaign.

4. Administration Expenditures

Eligible administrative expenditures are those supporting but not directly related to the delivery of Reaching Home programming. The maximum amount of administrative costs covered under Reaching Home is 15% of the total allocation. No more than 15% of the Reaching Home contribution can be used for administrative costs, and these costs must be reflected in the proposed project budget.

Eligible costs include:

  • Staff expenses
    • Mandatory Employment Related Costs (MERCs) which refer to payments an employer is required by law to make in respect of its employees such as: Employment Insurance and Canada Pension Plan/Québec Pension Plan premiums, workers’ compensation premiums, vacation pay and Employer Health Tax; and benefits which refer to payments an employer is required to make in respect of its employees by virtue of company policy or a collective agreement.
    • Professional development and staff training.
  • Administrative costs
    • General administration-type costs, normally incurred by any organization, that enable effective delivery of Reaching Home. These include costs such as administrative staff for activities such as: accounting, reporting and human resource management, and general administrative costs such as rent, phone/fax, postage/courier, office supplies, internet/website, bank charges, office moving expenses, office cleaning, security system, garbage removal/recycling, publication purchases, equipment maintenance and membership.
  • Professional fees
    • Contracting for goods or services such as bookkeeping, janitorial services, information technology, equipment maintenance services, security, audit costs and legal fees.
    • For services provided by Indigenous Elders the value of professional fees, gifts or honoraria must be proportional to the service rendered and should not exceed the reasonable and customary amount for each service.
  • Travel
    • Travel costs set out in the National Joint Council of Canada’s Travel Directive that are incurred by project staff, volunteers and contracted professionals. Examples include flight, hotel, car rental.
    • Staff and volunteer (includes Community Advisory Board members) transportation (e.g., parking, bus fare, airfare, taxi, mileage, food, accommodation).
  • Capital assets
    • Eligible costs related to other capital costs (e.g., vehicles, tools, equipment, machinery, computers and furniture for service delivery).
    • Cost of purchasing or leasing capital assets over $1,000, excluding taxes, with the exception of facilities. Under Reaching Home, this includes: furniture, appliances and fixtures for the facilities used to carry out administrative activities.
  • Other activity-related costs
    • Direct costs explicitly related to administrative activities that are not included in any other expenditure category, such as: cultural competency training, rented space to hold meetings, hospitality for meetings (including Community Advisory Board meetings), furniture costing $1,000 or less, before taxes, printing costs, meter charge for photocopies, translation.
    • Activities to ensure the participation of people with lived experience in the Community Advisory Board or Regional Advisory Board (e.g., reimbursing travel costs of a person with lived experience at a Community Advisory Board or Regional Advisory Board meeting).
    • Activities to ensure that programs and services meet the needs of Indigenous Language Communities (e.g., providing services and supports in Indigenous languages to address local Indigenous homelessness needs).

Ineligible activities include:

  • International travel costs.
  • Purchase of alcoholic beverages.
  • Payment to Community Advisory Board members for their time to attend Community Advisory Board meetings.
  • Costs associated to traffic and parking fines and penalties.

5. Homeless Individuals and Families Information System (HIFIS)

Developed by the Government of Canada, and in collaboration with communities across Canada, HIFIS is a Homelessness Management Information System (HMIS) that is provided to communities free of charge and designed to support Coordinated Access, the Outcomes-Based Approach, and the day-to-day operational activities of service providers in the homeless-serving sector. As a comprehensive data collection and case management system, HIFIS enables participating service providers within the same community to collect, access, and share local homelessness data to ensure that individuals and families are referred to appropriate services as efficiently as possible.

Who does this Directive apply to?

Communities funded under the Designated Communities or territorial capitals funded under the Territorial Homelessness streams are required to implement and actively use HIFIS.

  • HIFIS is not required under the Rural and Remote Homelessness nor Indigenous Homelessness streams; however, Community Entities funded under these streams are encouraged to use HIFIS in their efforts to prevent and reduce homelessness.
  • Where Designated Communities and Indigenous Homelessness streams co-exist, Community Entities for the Indigenous Homelessness stream are expected to collaborate with Community Entities for the Designated Communities stream in some core program elements (e.g., Community Plan, Community Homelessness Report, use of HIFIS, Coordinated Access and/or the Outcomes-Based Approach). Indigenous Homelessness Community Entities receive Community Capacity and Innovation funding for this purpose. For example, Indigenous Homelessness Community Entities can support ongoing improvements in service coordination, support data management, support access to the Coordinated Access system through referrals, help to develop the local Community Plan and Community Homelessness Report, and participate as members of local governance groups or tables. These engagements are intended to be bi-directional and Community Entities for both streams should take into consideration the priorities of their counterparts.

HIFIS Minimum Requirement 1: Community Entities must meet all HIFIS minimum requirements by March 31, 2026. Confirmation that communities are on track to do this will be required by October 31, 2025. Meeting all requirements includes:

  • Maintaining minimum requirements that were met by March 31, 2024;
  • Meeting requirements that were modified as of 2024-25; and,
  • Meeting new requirements introduced in 2024-25.

HIFIS Minimum Requirement 2: The use of HIFIS is mandatory for all Community Entities that are not already operating with an equivalent Homelessness Management Information System (HMIS). An equivalent HMIS must meet all of the following requirements:

  • Pre-existing use of the HMIS (the operation of an established HMIS prior to receiving Reaching Home funding).
  • Allows service providers to participate in Coordinated AccessFootnote 12, and for the collected data to be used to generate a Unique Identifier List and for Outcome-Based Approach reporting.
  • Capable of collecting and storing data securely to prevent unauthorized access.
  • Capable of collecting and exporting the same mandatory data fields to Infrastructure Canada each quarter, in the same safe and secure manner as HIFIS (e.g., data is encrypted and anonymized).
  • Capable of modifying the mandatory data fields if the data fields are updated.

HIFIS Minimum Requirement 3: Community Entities must ensure that their Reaching Home-funded service providers actively use the same HIFIS/HMIS that is being used to manage individual-level client data (i.e., person-specific data) and service provider information for Coordinated Access and the Outcomes-Based Approach.

  • Community Entities and their Reaching Home-funded service providers must actively use their HIFIS/HMIS to generate data for their Unique Identifier List in order to meet Coordinated Access requirements, and to generate data for outcome reporting in order to meet the Outcomes-Based Approach requirements;
  • To ensure data comprehensiveness for the Coordinated Access system and an understanding of community-level progress towards outcome targets for the Outcomes-Based Approach, active use of this same HIFIS/HMIS by all providers that serve people experiencing or at-risk of homelessness in the community, regardless of funding source, must be encouraged.
  • Community Entities must ensure there are no unnecessary barriers preventing Indigenous partners from accessing the HIFIS/HMIS data and/or the reports needed to help the people they serve; and,
  • Infrastructure Canada may deem certain updates of HIFIS to be mandatory for Community Entities. In these scenarios:
    • Infrastructure Canada will, in writing, instruct Community Entities using HIFIS to adopt the latest version of HIFIS within a specified period; and,
    • Infrastructure Canada will, in writing, provide Community Entities using an existing, equivalent HMIS with the necessary information to update their system to have equivalent functionality with the latest version of HIFIS. This information will specify what mandatory features or functionality have been added to HIFIS.

HIFIS Minimum Requirement 4: Community Entities must enter into a Data Provision Agreement with Infrastructure Canada, as well as develop a set of local agreements to manage privacy, data sharing, and client consent in compliance with municipal, provincial/territorial, and federal laws. This includes:

  • Data Provision Agreement: An agreement between the Community Entity and Infrastructure Canada that outlines the roles and responsibilities between both parties, as well as authorizes Infrastructure Canada’s collection of certain non-directly identifiable data fields;
  • A Community Data Sharing Agreement: An agreement between the Community Entity and their participating service providers that outlines the roles and responsibilities between both parties, and includes an understanding of what information is being shared and why; and,
  • Client Consent Form: An agreement between the service provider and the client that outlines the consent for the collection, retention, and sharing of certain data points from the client.

Note: Coordinated Access systems rely on the sharing of information between service providers. While individuals remain the owners of their personal information, service providers and the Community Entity are responsible for protecting their clients’ information.

For more information and/or support on HIFIS please contact info@HIFIS.caHIFIS.ca.

6. Coordinated Access and the Outcomes-Based Approach

Introduction to Coordinated Access and the Outcomes-Based Approach Directive

Under the Designated Communities and Territorial Homelessness streams, communities are funded to address local homelessness priorities using a coordinated, systems-based and data-driven approach. This approach was adopted in recognition that preventing and reducing homelessness requires access to safe and appropriate housing, a high degree of coordination across funders and community organizations, as well as meaningful collaboration between Indigenous and non-Indigenous partners.

Who does this Directive apply to?

Communities funded under the Designated Communities and the territorial capitals funded under the Territorial Homelessness streams are required to implement, maintain, and improve upon a Coordinated Access system and must continue to prevent and reduce homelessness using an Outcomes-Based ApproachFootnote 13.  

  • Coordinated Access and an Outcomes-Based Approach are not required under the Rural and Remote Homelessness nor Indigenous Homelessness streams; however, Community Entities funded under these streams are encouraged to implement both in their efforts to prevent and reduce homelessness.
  • Where Designated Communities and Indigenous Homelessness streams co-exist: Community Entities for the Indigenous Homelessness stream are expected to collaborate with Community Entities for the Designated Communities stream in some core program elements (e.g., Community Plan, Community Homelessness Report, use of HIFIS, Coordinated Access and/or the Outcomes-Based Approach). Indigenous Homelessness Community Entities receive Community Capacity and Innovation funding for this purpose. For example, Indigenous Homelessness Community Entities can support ongoing improvements in service coordination, support data management, support access to the Coordinated Access system through referrals, help to develop the local Community Plan and Community Homelessness Report, and participate as members of local governance groups or tables. These engagements are intended to be bi-directional and Community Entities for both streams should take into consideration the priorities of their counterparts.

Meaningful collaboration between Indigenous and non-Indigenous partners is a core component of Reaching Home. Collaboration with Indigenous partners is most effective when the intent is to build relationships based on the principles of respect, transparency, and responsiveness to the unique rights, needs and preferences of Indigenous peoples in the community. Meaningful collaboration requires sustained commitment and adds value for Indigenous and non-Indigenous partners alike.

6.1 What is Coordinated Access?

Under Reaching Home, Coordinated Access is defined as a way for communities to bring consistency, equity and efficiency to the process by which people experiencing or at-risk of homelessness access services and housing-related resources within a geographic area. A strong Coordinated Access system includes a Housing First approach, streamlined service delivery across different types of service providers, and quality data, including the ability to generate a Unique Identifier List using person-specific data for homelessness.

With this system in place, people across a community are directed to access points, where trained workers help them to access a range of services through a process of initial triage and, if needed, more in-depth assessment. When vacancies in housing units, subsidies or supports become available through Coordinated Access, these housing-related resources are offered to people that have been prioritized for them, based on a matching process that considers individual strengths, needs, and preferences, as well as local priorities. Throughout the process, people are helped to navigate next steps, sometimes through targeted case conferencing.

What are the Coordinated Access minimum requirements?

Minimum requirements for Coordinated Access are organized around the following core components of a Coordinated Access system under Reaching Home:

  1. Governance and partnerships;
  2. System map and Resource Inventory;
  3. Service navigation and case conferencing;
  4. Access points to service;
  5. Initial triage;
  6. More in-depth assessment; and,
  7. Vacancy matching and referral with prioritization.

While person-specific homelessness data is also a core component of Coordinated Access, its minimum requirements are covered under the HIFIS and Outcomes-Based Approach Directives.

Coordinated Access Minimum Requirement 1: Communities must meet all Coordinated Access minimum requirements by March 31, 2026. Confirmation that communities are on track to do this will be required by October 31, 2025. Meeting all requirements includes:

  • Maintaining minimum requirements that were met by March 31, 2024;
  • Meeting requirements that were modified as of 2024-25; and,
  • Meeting new requirements introduced in 2024-25.

6.1.1 Governance and Partnerships

In general, effective governance supports a transparent, accountable, and responsive Coordinated Access system. Under Reaching Home, governance refers to the overall structures, policies and protocols that establish strategic direction, define how decisions are made, and oversee program implementation. Successful implementation of Coordinated Access and HIFISFootnote 14 requires a clear governance structure with appropriate data-related policies and practices.

The governance structure for Coordinated Access needs to be representative of the population groups the system intends to serve, as well as the types of service providers that help people to transition from homelessness to safe, appropriate housing in the community. An inclusive governance structure must include appropriate representation of Indigenous peoples, as well as individuals with the knowledge and expertise to ensure that the Coordinated Access system is culturally appropriate and responsive to the needs of Indigenous peoples.

For more information about governance and partnerships, as well as descriptions of the Coordinated Access and HIFIS Lead roles, see the Homelessness Learning Hub. For more information about roles in a Coordinated Access system, see the Reaching Home System Mapping Guide.

Governance and partnerships minimum requirements:

Coordinated Access Minimum Requirement 2: As communities work to implement, maintain and improve their Coordinated Access system, meaningful collaboration between Indigenous and non-Indigenous partners is expected:

  • In communities where only Designated Communities funding is available, Community Entities are expected to collaborate with their respective Community Advisory Board, and local Indigenous partners. Where Designated Communities and Indigenous Homelessness streams co-exist, and where there are distinct Community Entities for each stream, the Designated Community and the Indigenous Homelessness Community Entity are expected to collaborate with each other and their respective Community Advisory Board(s) and local Indigenous partners.
  • Where Designated Communities and Indigenous Homelessness streams co-exist, and where there is a single Community Entity for both streams, this entity is expected to collaborate with the Community Advisory Board(s) and local Indigenous partners.
  • Territorial capitals funded under the Territorial Homelessness stream are expected to collaborate with their respective Community Advisory Board, and local Indigenous partners to support meaningful participation in the Coordinated Access system.
  • Active participation in Coordinated Access by all providers that serve people experiencing or at-risk of homelessness is encouraged, particularly from those that serve Indigenous peoples. For example, the Resource Inventory should include housing units, subsidies and supports that are intended for Indigenous peoples.

Coordinated Access Minimum Requirement 3: Communities must maintain an integrated, community-based governance structure that supports a transparent, accountable and responsive Coordinated Access system, with HIFIS as the local HMIS. Membership must include representation from the following:

  • Population groups the Coordinated Access system intends to serve;
  • Types of service providers that help prevent homelessness and those that help people transition from homelessness to safe, appropriate housing;
  • Indigenous partners (more than a single representative, wherever possible);
  • People with lived experience of homelessness; and,
  • Provincial/territorial and municipal governments.

Note: Terms of Reference for the governance structure must be documented and be made publicly available, if requested.

Coordinated Access Minimum Requirement 4: A lead organization must be identified for Coordinated Access and for HIFIS. The Coordinated Access Lead and HIFIS Lead must collaborate to:

  • Improve service coordination and data management; and,
  • Increase the quality and use of data to prevent and reduce homelessness.

Note: Roles and responsibilities for the Coordinated Access and HIFIS Lead must be documented and be made publicly available, if requested.

Coordinated Access Minimum Requirement 5: The governance structure must identify how various homeless-serving sector roles and groups are integrated and aligned in support of the community’s overall goals to prevent and reduce homelessness, including the following:

  • Community Entity;
  • Community Advisory Board;
  • Coordinated Access Lead and HIFIS Lead roles;
  • Provincial/territorial and/or municipal designations relative to managing homelessness funding, as applicable;
  • Local groups with a mandate to prevent and/or reduce homelessness, as applicable; and,
  • Local Indigenous partners, including Indigenous service delivery organizations, as applicable.

Note: This must be documented and be made publicly available, if requested.

Coordinated Access Minimum Requirement 6: All service providers receiving Reaching Home funding (i.e., those that deliver one or more federally-funded projects/sub-projects) must participate in Coordinated Access.

Note: Documenting participation in Coordinated Access forms part of a community’s system map (see CA MR 8).

Coordinated Access Minimum Requirement 7: Communities must encourage broad service provider participation in the Coordinated Access system, regardless of funding source.

  • Broad service provider participation—regardless of funding source—is important as it is the best way to connect everyone who needs and wants help with their housing to the widest range of services in the most seamless way possible.
  • Participation must be encouraged from service providers that do not receive Reaching Home funding and (a) serve people experiencing or at-risk of homelessness and (b) could fill their vacancies through the Coordinated Access system (e.g., they have housing units, subsidies and/or supports that could be accessed by people experiencing homelessness).

Note: Documenting participation in Coordinated Access forms part of a community’s system map (see CA MR 8).

6.1.2 System Map and Resource Inventory

A system map is a document that identifies and describes the service providers that participate in the Coordinated Access system.

A Resource Inventory is a document that identifies and describes the housing-related resources that fill vacancies through the Coordinated Access system (e.g., units, subsidies, and/or supports). It includes eligibility criteria for each resource, which ensures that appropriate matches can be made between vacancies in the Resource Inventory and people currently experiencing homelessness on the Unique Identifier List.

For more information about the Resource Inventory, see the Homelessness Learning Hub.

System Map and Resource Inventory minimum requirements:

Coordinated Access Minimum Requirement 8: Communities must develop and maintain a document that identifies and describes the service providers that participate in the Coordinated Access system (referred to as a “system map”). Communities must use this tool to guide their efforts to improve their Coordinated Access system, use of HIFIS and data quality. This document must include the following:

  • Name of the organization and/or service provider;
  • Type of service provider (e.g., emergency shelter, supportive housing);
  • Funding source(s);
  • Eligibility for service (e.g., youth);
  • Capacity to serve (e.g., number of units);
  • Role in the Coordinated Access system (e.g., access point);
  • Role with maintaining quality data used for a Unique Identifier List (e.g., keep data up-to-date for housing history); and,
  • If the service provider currently uses HIFIS.

Note: The system map must be made publicly available, if requested.

Coordinated Access Minimum Requirement 9: All housing-related resources funded under the Designated Communities or Territorial Homelessness streams (i.e., federally-funded projects/sub-projects) must be included in the Resource Inventory and fill vacancies using the Unique Identifier List, following the vacancy matching and referral process. They will not maintain a separate wait list or use another, parallel process to fill vacancies.

Note: Documenting participation in Coordinated Access forms part of a community’s system map (see CA MR 8).

Coordinated Access Minimum Requirement 10: Eligibility requirements must be documented for each housing-related resource in the Resource Inventory.

  • Eligibility requirements can apply to a type of resource (e.g., all supportive housing) and/or a smaller subset of that type (e.g., a unit in a supportive housing building).

Note: Documenting eligibility requirements forms part of a community’s system map (see CA MR 8).

Coordinated Access Minimum Requirement 11: Prioritization criteria, and the order in which they are applied, must be documented for each housing-related resource in the Resource Inventory.

  • Depth of need (i.e., acuity) must be included as a factor in prioritization.
  • Prioritization criteria may also include: housing history, current length of homeless episode, current living situation, health status, vulnerability to victimization, household type, number of children and/or pregnancy, age, Veteran status and/or Indigenous identity.
  • Prioritization criteria can be shared for more than one type of resource (e.g., all rapid re-housing and supportive housing) or apply to only one type (e.g., only supportive housing).
  • Only information identified in the community’s prioritization policy may be used to filter the Unique Identifier List to generate a Priority List for filling vacancies.

Note: Documentation must be made available, if requested.

6.1.3 Service Navigation and Case Conferencing

Service navigation is a collaborative process where service providers work together to develop and implement service plans. The focus is on supporting people to move through the Coordinated Access process by removing service barriers, so that people can exit homelessness as quickly as possible. Within this context, case conferencing is a specialized form of problem solving, often used to help people access a range of services and/or housing-related resources, so they can move forward with their housing plans.

Coordinated Access Minimum Requirement 12: Communities must have processes in place to ensure that people experiencing homelessness are being supported to move through the Coordinated Access process (often referred to as service navigation or case conferencing).

  • While there is flexibility in how these supports may be structured, processes must include keeping people’s information up-to-date in HIFIS (e.g., interaction with the system, housing history, as well as data used to inform eligibility and prioritization for housing-related resources) and helping people to identify and overcome barriers to accessing appropriate services and/or housing-related resources.

Note: Service navigation and case conferencing processes must be documented and this documentation must be made available, if requested.

6.1.4 Access Points to Service

Access points are where people enter the Coordinated Access system, either through phone lines, virtual/online spaces, mobile outreach and/or physical locations. Access points connect people to a range of services and the specific housing-related resources in the Resource Inventory. In general, quality access points are well defined, easily understood, and flexible enough to meet the needs of a diverse group of people.

For more information about access points, see the Homelessness Learning Hub.

Access points to service minimum requirements:

Coordinated Access Minimum Requirement 13: Access points must be available throughout the geographic area covered by the Designated Communities or Territorial Homelessness funded region, so that people can be served regardless of where they are in the community.

Note: Access points must be documented and be made publicly available.

Coordinated Access Minimum Requirement 14: There must be processes in place to monitor if there is easy, equitable and low-barrier access to the Coordinated Access system, and to respond to issues that emerge, as appropriate.

Note: These processes must be documented and be made available, if requested.

6.1.5 Triage and Assessment

While the specific details of individual housing challenges will vary, the goal for Coordinated Access is to bring consistency, equity and efficiency to the process by which people can get help with their challenges. This process includes triage, which is an initial or immediate intervention that focuses on ensuring safety, meeting basic needs, and homelessness prevention or shelter diversion. The process also includes assessment, which is part of more in-depth or intensive service planning to gain a deeper understanding of people’s needs, strengths and preferences. During this process, service plans that target specific goals are implemented and barriers to services and/or housing-related resources are removed, so that people can exit homelessness as quickly as possible.

For greater clarity, the overall triage and assessment process spans the full continuum of interactions with people as they are supported to access services, including ensuring that those who are eligible for housing-related resources are ready to accept an offer when a vacancy becomes available.

For more information about the overall triage and assessment process, see the Homelessness Learning Hub.

Triage and assessment minimum requirements:

Coordinated Access Minimum Requirement 15: The triage and assessment process must be documented in one or more policies/protocols and address the following:

  • Consents: Ensuring that people have a clear understanding of the Coordinated Access system, as well as how their personal information will be shared and stored. Includes addressing situations where people may benefit from services, but are not able or willing to give their consent.
  • Intakes: Documenting that people have connected or reconnected with the Coordinated Access system and have been entered into HIFIS, including obtaining or reconfirming consents, creating or updating client records, and entering transactions in HIFIS.
  • Initial triage: Ensuring safety and meeting basic needs (e.g., food and shelter), and guiding people through the process of stopping an eviction (homelessness prevention) or finding somewhere to stay that is safe and appropriate besides shelter (shelter diversion).
  • More in-depth assessment: Gathering information to gain a deeper understanding of people’s housing-related strengths, depth of need, and preferences, including through the use of a common assessment tool(s) to inform prioritization for vacancies in the Resource Inventory.
  • Community referrals: Gathering information to understand what services people are eligible for and identifying where they can go to get their basic needs met, get help with a housing plan and/or connect with other related resources.
  • Housing plans: Documenting people’s progress with finding and securing housing (with appropriate subsidies and/or supports, as applicable).
  • Using a person-centered approach: Tailoring use of common tools to meet the needs and preferences of different people or population groups (e.g., youth), while also maintaining consistency in process across the Coordinated Access system.

Note: Documentation must be made available, if requested.

Coordinated Access Minimum Requirement 16: A common, unified triage and assessment process must be applied across all population groups in the community.

  • Communities can select the triage and assessment tool(s) that work best for them, based on local needs and priorities.
  • People should not be asked to repeat similar information gathered through more than one tool to access services (e.g., ensure people are not asked to complete two tools with similar questions that measure depth of need), even if they are being served by different providers.
  • People should not have to complete different tools unless there is a good rationale for doing so, such as a change in their circumstances (e.g., an individual becomes part of a family) or developmental phase (e.g., when youth become adults).
  • If more than one tool is being used, communities will need to put additional processes in place to limit the risk of re-traumatizing people (e.g., ensure people are not asked similar questions multiple times), as well as reducing administrative burden and data duplication if service providers are expected to use multiple tools (e.g., entering users are not being asked to enter similar information into multiple fields in HIFIS).
  • If more than one triage and/or assessment tool is being used, there must be a protocol in place that describes:
    • When each tool should be used (e.g., tools used only for youth verses those that can be used with more than one population group);
    • When a person/family could be asked to complete more than one tool (e.g., if an individual becomes part of a family or a youth becomes an adult); and,
    • How the matching process will be managed in situations where more than one person/family is eligible for the same vacancy and, because data to inform prioritization was collected using different tools, results are not the same (e.g., one tool gives a higher score for depth of need than the other).

Note: The triage and assessment process must be documented and this documentation must be made available, if requested. See also CA MR 15.

6.1.6 Vacancy Matching and Referral with Prioritization

Vacancy matching and referral with prioritization represents the final stage of the Coordinated Access process. It refers to the process of matching people experiencing homelessness with open or pending vacancies from the Resource Inventory, based on eligibility and need, and then prioritizing who gets an offer first. Following a successful referral, the process ends with a move-in to housing.

For more information about vacancy matching and referral, see the Homelessness Learning Hub.

Vacancy matching and referral minimum requirements:

Coordinated Access Minimum Requirement 17: The vacancy matching and referral process must be documented in one or more policies/protocols and address the following:

  • Roles and responsibilities: Describing who is responsible for each step of the process, including data management.
  • Prioritization: Identifying how prioritization criteria is used to determine an individual or family’s relative priority on the Priority List (a subset of the broader Unique Identifier List) when vacancies become available (i.e., how the Priority List is filtered and/or sorted).
  • Referrals: What information to cover when referring an individual or family that has been matched and how their choice will be respected, including allowing individuals and families to reject a referral without repercussions.
  • Offers: What information to cover when a provider is offering a vacancy to an individual or family that has been matched and tips for making informed decisions about the offer.
  • Challenges: How concerns and/or disagreements about prioritization and referrals will be managed, including criteria by which a referral could be rejected by a provider following a match.
  • Resource Inventory management: Steps to track real-time capacity, transitions in/out of units, occupancy/caseloads, progress with referrals/offers, and housing outcomes.

Coordinated Access Minimum Requirement 18: Vacancies from the Resource Inventory must be filled using a Priority List, following the vacancy matching and referral process.

  • A Priority List is used to determine who is currently waiting for a housing-related resource (e.g., a unit, subsidy, or supports through a case manager) and is offer-ready. It is a subset of the broader Unique Identifier List, which includes everyone in the community that is currently experiencing homelessness, has come into contact with the homeless-serving system and has given their consent to be included.
  • Only information relevant to the prioritization criteria may be used to make decisions.

6.2 What is the Outcomes-Based Approach?

Under Reaching Home, an Outcomes-Based Approach is defined as a data-driven approach to preventing and reducing homelessness where local organizations and service providers work together to achieve community-level outcomes and reach reduction targets using person-specific data. Quality data is used for Coordinated Access, for outcome reporting, and to develop strategies that drive the prevention and reduction of homelessness.

What are the Outcomes-Based Approach minimum requirements?

Minimum requirements for the Outcomes-Based Approach support communities to improve the availability, quality, and use of data to prevent and reduce homelessness. Requirements align with the six core components of an Outcomes-Based Approach:

  • Data uniqueness: Data for homelessness is person-specific (e.g., people currently experiencing homelessness are included only once in the dataset, after consent is granted);
  • Data consistency: Data is collected using HIFIS (or existing, equivalent HMIS) to generate a Unique Identifier List for Coordinated Access and for outcome reporting.
  • Data timeliness: Data is up-to-date (real-time), readily available and accessible whenever it is needed;
  • Data completeness: Data has all relevant and necessary information for Coordinated Access and outcome reporting;
  • Data comprehensiveness: Data reflects community-level homelessness; and,
  • Data use: Data is used to set baselines, set homelessness reduction targets, and track progress for each of the core outcomes of Reaching Home. More broadly, data is also used to inform action in policy-making, program planning, performance management, investment strategies and/or service delivery.

Outcomes-Based Approach Minimum Requirement 1: Communities must meet all Outcomes-Based Approach minimum requirements by March 31, 2026. Confirmation that communities are on track to do this will be required by October 31, 2025. Meeting all requirements includes:

  • Maintaining minimum requirements that were met by March 31, 2024;
  • Meeting requirements that were modified as of 2024-25; and,
  • Meeting new requirements introduced in 2024-25.

Outcomes-Based Approach Minimum Requirement 2: As communities work to strengthen their Outcomes-Based Approach, meaningful collaboration between Indigenous and non-Indigenous partners is expected:

  • In communities where only Designated Communities funding is available, Community Entities are expected to collaborate with their respective Community Advisory Board, and local Indigenous partners.
  • Where Designated Communities and Indigenous Homelessness streams co-exist, and where there are distinct Community Entities for each stream, the Designated Community and  the Indigenous Homelessness Community Entity are expected to collaborate with each other and their respective Community Advisory Board(s) and local Indigenous partners.
  • Where Designated Communities and Indigenous Homelessness streams co-exist, and where there is a single Community Entity for both streams, this entity is expected to partner with the Community Advisory Board(s) and local Indigenous organizations.
  • Territorial capitals funded under the Territorial Homelessness stream are expected to collaborate with their respective Community Advisory Board, and local Indigenous partners to support meaningful participation in the Outcomes-Based Approach.
  • Active participation in the Outcomes-Based Approach by all providers that serve people experiencing or at-risk of homelessness is encouraged, particularly those that serve Indigenous peoples.

Outcomes-Based Approach Minimum Requirement 3: Communities must have a written policy/protocol (“Inactivity Policy”) that describes how interaction with the homeless-serving system is documented.

  • As part of this policy/protocol, communities must:
    • Define what it means to be “active” or “inactive”;
    • Define what keeps someone “active” (e.g., data entry into specific fields in HIFIS);
    • Specify the level of effort required by service providers to find people before they are made/confirmed as “inactive”;
    • Explain how to document a person’s first time as “active”, as well as changes in “activity” or “inactivity” over time; and,
    • Explain how to check for data quality (e.g., run a report that shows the clients that are about to become inactive and work with outreach workers to update their files and keep them active, as needed).

Outcomes-Based Approach Minimum Requirement 4: Communities must have a written policy/protocol that describes how housing history is documented, which may form part of a broader data entry guide.

  • As part of this policy/protocol, communities must:
    • Define what it means to be “homeless” or “housed” (e.g., define a housing continuum that shows which housing types align with a status of “homeless” versus “housed”);
    • Explain how to enter housing history consistently; and,
    • Explain how to check for data quality (e.g., run a report that shows the percentage of clients that have complete housing history, so that “unknown” fields can be updated).

Outcomes-Based Approach Minimum Requirement 5: Communities must maintain person-specific data that is collected with consent, where people currently experiencing homelessness are included in the dataset only once.

  • For Coordinated Access, communities must generate data for their Unique Identifier List using HIFIS (or existing, equivalent HMIS). Processes must be in place to ensure that all relevant and necessary data for filling vacancies is complete (e.g., data used to determine if someone is eligible and can be prioritized for a vacancy is not missing from the dataset).

Outcomes-Based Approach Minimum Requirement 6: Communities must keep data up-to-date (real-time), making updates as soon as new information is available about a person. Timely updates must be made when there are changes to the following:

  • Interaction with the homeless-service system (e.g., changes from “active” to “inactive”);
  • Housing history (e.g., changes from “homeless” to “housed”); and,
  • Data that is relevant and necessary for Coordinated Access (e.g., data used to determine who is eligible and can be prioritized for a vacancy).

Outcomes-Based Approach Minimum Requirement 7: Communities must maintain comprehensive data, so that it includes everyone currently experiencing homelessness that has interacted with the system. At minimum, comprehensive data must include:

  • All household types (e.g., singles and families experiencing homelessness);
  • People experiencing sheltered homelessness (e.g., staying in emergency shelters), where applicable; and,
  • People experiencing unsheltered homelessness (e.g., people living in encampments), where applicable.

Outcomes-Based Approach Minimum Requirement 8: For each core community-level outcome, communities must use their person-specific data for homelessness to set baselines, set reduction targets and track their progress up to 2027-28.

  • Communities must be able to get accurate monthly baselines and set monthly reduction targets by March 31, 2024.
  • Communities must be able to get accurate annual baselines and set annual reduction targets by March 31, 2026. Confirmation that communities are on track to do this will be required by October 31, 2025.
  • The five core community-level outcomes under Reaching Home are:
    • Homelessness is reduced overall;
    • New inflows into homelessness are reduced;
    • Returns to homelessness are reduced;
    • Indigenous homelessness is reduced; and,
    • Chronic homelessness is reduced.
  • For tracking community-level outcomes, communities must collect data using HIFIS (or existing, equivalent HMIS) on who is currently experiencing homelessness, who is newly identified as experiencing homelessness, who has returned to homelessness, as well as Indigenous and chronic homelessness. Processes must be in place to ensure that all relevant and necessary data for outcome reporting is complete (i.e., data for interaction with the system, housing history, and Indigenous status is not missing from the dataset).
  • Communities can set their own targets for each core outcome with the exception of chronic homelessness, where a reduction target of 50% must be set.
  • Beyond these core outcomes, communities also have the option of reporting on other community-level outcomes.
  • Baselines, reduction targets, and progress must be documented and be made publicly available.

Note: See also HIFIS MR 3 that specifies data must be collected using HIFIS (or an existing, equivalent HMIS).

Outcomes-Based Approach Minimum Requirement 9: Communities must continually work to improve the quality of their data and demonstrate how it is used to prevent and reduce homelessness. This requires:

  • Data to be readily available and accessible; and,
  • Data to be used to inform action in policy-making, program planning, performance management, investment strategies and/or service delivery.

Note: Efforts to improve data quality and demonstrating how data is being used to inform actions related to preventing and reducing homelessness must be documented and be made publicly available, if requested.

For more information on the Outcomes-Based Approach, see the Homelessness Learning Hub.

7. Planning and Public Reporting

7.1 Community Plans

Requirement: Communities receiving funding from the Designated Communities and territorial capitals funded under the Territorial Homelessness streams must develop a Community Plan at the start of each funding cycle that includes the following components:

  • An investment plan indicating the intended allocation of Reaching Home funding towards eligible activity areas.
  • Work that will be undertaken to:
    • Implement, maintain and improve Coordinated Access;
    • Increase data quality and strengthen the Outcomes-Based Approach (including maintaining person-specific data that is real-time and comprehensive, which is used to generate a Unique Identifier List); and,
    • Use data to drive the prevention and reduction of homelessness at the community level.
  • Details on how the Community Plan was informed by community engagement, including how the Indigenous Homelessness Community Entity and Community Advisory Board (where the Indigenous Homelessness and Designated Communities streams co-exist) and other Indigenous partners in the community collaborated in the development of the Community Plan and how their input and priorities were integrated into the final product.
  • Measures to be undertaken to meet the needs of Official Language Minority Communities.
  • Identification of other funding sources available to address homelessness in the community.

7.2 Community Homelessness Reports

Requirement: All communities that receive funding from the Designated Communities stream and the territorial capitals funded under the Territorial Homelessness stream are required to complete an annual Community Homelessness Report to self-assess their progress with Reaching Home implementation. The Community Homelessness Report supports local discussions and decision making related to priorities, challenges and opportunities, using all of the information about homelessness currently available at the community level. Communities must use their Reaching Home outcome data, as reported in their Community Homelessness Reports, to highlight where they should focus their efforts to prevent and reduce homelessness in the coming years. This includes developing and/or updating clear plans of action that help them to reach their homelessness reduction targets and to leverage the collective efforts of service providers working across the community, over and beyond Reaching Home-funded service providers.

  • A summary of Community Homelessness Report results must be made publicly available.
  • In communities where only Designated Community or Territorial Homelessness funding is available, Community Entities are expected to collaborate with local Indigenous partners to complete the Community Homelessness Report.
  • Where Designated Communities and Indigenous Homelessness streams co-exist, and where there are distinct Community Entities for each stream, these entities are expected to collaborate with each other, their respective Community Advisory Boards, and local Indigenous partners, to complete the Community Homelessness Report, including approvals and sign-off.
  • Where Designated Communities and Indigenous Homelessness streams co-exist, and where there is a single Community Entity for both streams, this entity is expected to collaborate with the Community Advisory Board(s) and local Indigenous partners, to complete the Community Homelessness Report, including approvals and sign-off. 

For more information about the Community Homelessness Report, see the Homelessness Learning Hub.

8. Community Advisory Boards and Regional Advisory Boards

The Community Advisory Board (CAB), applicable to Designated Communities, Indigenous Homelessness and Territorial Homelessness funding streams, or Regional Advisory Board (RAB), applicable to the Rural and Remote funding stream, is the local organizing committee responsible for setting direction and priorities for addressing homelessness in the community or region.

The CAB/RAB is expected to coordinate efforts the community or regional level. This requires in-depth knowledge of the key sectors and systems that affect local priorities. The support its role, the CAB/RAB is also expected and encouraged to have an engagement strategy in place that explains how it intends to achieve broad and inclusive representation, coordinate partnerships with the necessary sectors/systems to meet its priorities, integrate local efforts with those of the province or territory, and recommend projects to the Community Entity.

8.1 Roles and responsibilities

The CAB/RAB is responsible for the following:

  • Helping to guide investment planning, including the development of the Community Plan (where required) and provide official approval.
    • The CAB/RAB is responsible for engaging with key community organizations and individuals in the community (including Indigenous peoples and people with lived and living experience) beyond the homeless-serving sector.
    • In partnership with the Community Entity, it is also responsible for gathering all available information related to local homelessness needs in order to identify priorities, understand what is working and what is not, and develop a coordinated approach to meet local priorities.
  • Assessing and recommending projects for funding to the Community Entity.
    • The CAB/RAB is expected to undergo this process with a comprehensive understanding of the local homelessness priorities in their community.
    • It is responsible for supporting a fair, equitable, and transparent assessment process as set out by the Community Entity.
    • Members must recuse themselves in situations where there is a real or perceived conflict of interest (e.g., ties to proposed projects).
    • To support the formal assessment and recommendation of projects, Community Entities must provide CAB/RAB members with prospective project information, including activities and intended outcomes.
    • While the CAB/RAB is responsible for assessing and recommending projects for funding, the Community Entity has the ultimate responsibility for funding decisions in an open, fair, and transparent manner.
  • Being representative of the community or region.
    • The CAB/RAB is responsible for recruiting members, and is expected to ensure that its composition has broad and inclusive representation.
    • It is also expected to engage in meaningful collaboration with key partners, including provincial/territorial, municipal and Indigenous governments as well as entities coordinating provincial/territorial homelessness initiatives at the local level, where applicable.
  • Supporting Community Entities in implementing, maintaining, and improving the Coordinated Access system, use of HIFIS, as well as preventing and reducing homelessness using an Outcomes-Based Approach.
  • Reviewing and approving the Community Homelessness Report.

8.2 Composition

The purpose of the overall governance structure is to support a transparent, accountable, and responsive homeless-serving system. CAB/RAB membership is expected to include officials from federal, provincial/territorial, and municipal governments, Indigenous community representatives, community stakeholders, and the private and voluntary sectors. The structure also needs to be representative of the population groups the system intends to serve, as well as the types of service providers that help people to transition from homelessness to safe, appropriate housing in the community. An inclusive governance structure must include appropriate representation of Indigenous peoples. Depending on the local context, it may be appropriate to have separate Indigenous Community Advisory Board representation for Inuit, First Nations and Métis peoples.

  • Participation on the CAB/RAB is especially encouraged from:
    • Individuals with lived experience of homelessness;
    • Indigenous Peoples, nations and organizations, Friendship Centres;
    • Indigenous housing organizations;
    • Youth and child serving organizations, including Child Welfare agencies;
    • Organizations serving survivors of domestic violence and their families;
    • Seniors and senior serving organizations;
    • Newcomers and newcomer serving organizations;
    • The private sector;
    • Police and correctional services;
    • Landlord associations and/or the housing sector;
    • Health organizations, including hospitals and other public health institutions, and organizations focused on mental health and addictions; and,
    • Veterans Affairs Canada and Veterans-serving organizations.
  • Participation of provincial/territorial, municipal and Indigenous governments on the CAB/RAB is also expected to (1) act as a resource for information on existing policies and programs, (2) provide guidance to ensure complementarity between federal and existing investments, and (3) keep the respective organization apprised of developments at the community level ( e.g., information regarding calls for proposals, list of projects to be funded, etc.). The voting status of these members should be agreed to at the community level.
  • Ex-officio representation must include Infrastructure Canada and the Community Entity who will advise on program eligibility requirements, and guide the CAB/RAB where significant changes to the program are introduced.
  • Where two CABs/RABs exist within the same community (e.g., under the Designated Communities, Indigenous Homelessness, or Rural and Remote Homelessness streams), it is expected that at least two CAB/RAB seats are available for the alternate Community Entity and a CAB/RAB member to promote collaboration and alignment among priorities. The voting status of these members should be agreed to at the community level.

8.3 Governance

The CAB/RAB must develop, maintain and make available terms of reference and other policies and procedures central to the functions of the CAB/RAB, including, but not limited to, the following:

  • Formalized procedures for addressing, real and/or perceived Conflicts of Interests, including the membership of any elected municipal officials;
  • Formalized procedures for assessing and recommending project proposals for federal funding under Reaching Home;
  • Identification of exclusive and shared responsibilities among CABs/RABs and Community Entities;
  • A formalized engagement strategy on how the CAB/RAB intends to have broad representation, and coordinate partnerships with key community organizations and individuals; and,
  • Membership terms and conditions, including recruitment processes, length of tenure, attendance requirements, and/or any delegated tasks.

9. Requirements related to capital projects

Requirement: If a community is going to invest in a capital project, the community and project sponsor must demonstrate they have done the following:

  • Linked with the province or territory: at the earliest possible stage, efforts should be made to link with provincial, territorial or municipal funding. It is important to provide evidence of the need to purchase, construct, or renovate facilities and to ensure that the community is best placed to undertake the capital projectFootnote 15. This should be demonstrated through the Reaching Home Sustainability Checklist for Applicants of Capital Investment ProjectsFootnote 16. Reaching Home funds can be used to complement other capital investments made by a province, territory or municipality. However, Reaching Home funding must not duplicate or displace funding from other programs (should be used to fill a gap in these instances).
  • Encouraged leveraging: where possible, communities are encouraged to ensure that Reaching Home is not the sole funder in capital projects. For capital projects consisting of new construction or purchase of facilities, the community is required to record the in-kind and financial contributions of each capital investment sub-project funded under Reaching Home.
  • Ensuring sustainability: capital projects require a sustainability plan in which organizations must demonstrate their capacity to operate the facility for its intended purpose for at least 5 years after project completion. Applicants must identify all relevant funding sources for the operation of the facility and/or new services through their application documents. Capital projects funded under Reaching Home should lead to new or improved services after their completion. Therefore, an exit strategy is unacceptable for capital projects.
  • In their sustainability plan, organizations must:
    • describe their partnerships;
    • confirm their funding sources for ongoing operations;
    • report if the project will increase the level of services or if they will remain stable; and,
    • include a timeline for the completion of their activities.
  • Requirement: As part of the application process for a sub-project, capital project applicants must follow the Sustainability Checklist in order to demonstrate that the minimum project sustainability standards have been addressed.
  • Applicants seeking capital funding under the regionally delivered funding streams (Designated Communities; Rural and Remote Homelessness; Territorial Stream and Indigenous Homelessness Stream) are required to complete the checklist as part of any proposal to create or expand a facility which could result in increased annual operational costs. The sustainability checklist can also be used to assess sustainability in capital projects that do not incur increased annual operational costs (e.g., equipment purchase or renovations in a facility where no space, beds or units are added or no service is created or expanded).
  • Communities are responsible to review the checklist completed by applicants through the solicitation or proposals, as part of the assessment process.

Requirement: As Reaching Home allocations are annual, multi-year projects must be managed (expensed) on a fiscal year basis.

Requirement: Applicable to organizations which own a property or have a long-term lease, capital renovation projects may be subject to monitoring for up to 5 years after the project end-date to ensure recipients are compliant with the terms of their funding agreement with Infrastructure Canada.

Infrastructure Canada monitors capital investments for emerging issues and may ask for course correction as needed.

10. Official Language Minority Communities

The Government of Canada has a responsibility under the Official Languages Act to ensure that programs and services meet the needs of Official Language Minority CommunitiesFootnote 17.

Requirement: CAB/RABs and Community Entities are expected to identify Official Language Minority Communities within their community and ensure that appropriate services and supports are available in both official languages where there is significant demandFootnote 18.

  • The Official Language Minority Communities should be considered in the development and implementation of the community plan to ensure the needs of these populations are assessed and that appropriate measures are put in place to address those needs.

Requirement: The role of the CAB/RAB and Community Entity includes the following steps:

  • Identify the Official Language Minority Community in the community within the homeless population targeted by Reaching Home (supported by data, where available);
  • Engage the Official Language Minority Community to ensure they are involved in the planning and implementation of the community's overall approach to homelessness;
  • Assess the specific needs of the Official Language Minority Community to determine the nature of homelessness services required to address those needs.

Requirement: When an Official Language Minority Community is identified and the assessment indicates additional and specific needs for that group, the community (CAB/RAB and Community Entity) must have a plan in place to ensure these needs are appropriately addressed. The following principles will guide the development of a plan to address the Official Language Minority Community needs and ensure a minimum of substantive equality:

  • Formal equality: is achieved when members of the Official Language Minority Community and those of the majority community are treated the same way by providing identical services in English and French;
  • Substantive equality: is achieved by taking into consideration the specific needs of the minority community by providing activities or services with different content or using a different delivery method to ensure that the minority receives services of the same quality as the majority.
  • Requirement: In accordance with the Community Entity funding agreement, the Community Entity is responsible for the following activities related to support for official languages (Schedule C, section 6, 6.1):
  • 6.1 The Recipient shall:
    1. make Project-related documentation and announcements available (for the public and prospective Project participants, if any) in both official languages;
    2. actively offer Project-related services in both official languages;
    3. encourage members of both official language communities to participate in the Project; and
    4. provide its services, where appropriate, in such a manner as to address the needs of both official language communities.

Note: The Community Entity (in other words, the Recipient) must ensure these criteria are considered in the planning and selection of sub-projects where Official Language Minority Communities have been identified.

Communities must have a plan in place to ensure that the mix of sub-projects they fund enables the community to provide service to the Official Language Minority Community that is of substantively equal quality to the service provided to the majority Official Language population.

The Community Entities should be able to demonstrate how the needs of both Official Language communities were considered in the development of the community plan (or annual community plan update,) and the assessment and selection of projects funded under Reaching Home.

In the event where the Community Entities initial plan to meet the Official Language Minority Community requirements is not achieved, the Community Entity must have an alternate plan to demonstrate how the needs of the Official Language Minority Community will be met.

This can be accomplished in a variety of ways, for example:

  • in advance of a solicitation of proposals process, the CAB/RAB/Community Entity can decide how the Official Language Minority Community needs will be incorporated into the project selection and/or assessment of proposals process;
  • through a partnership agreement between/amongst organizations;
  • through coordination of existing project-related services in the community that are already well-established and readily accessible.

The CAB/RAB and Community Entity are encouraged to work with local Infrastructure Canada representatives in the application of this directive.

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