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Liberals loosen purse strings on cornerstone homelessness program


The federal government is making it easier for cities to get homeless people off the streets

Cities will be given more money and fewer spending restrictions to get homeless people off the streets

TORONTO – Cities working to get homeless Canadians off the streets and into homes will given more money and fewer spending restrictions under a revamp of the Liberal government’s centrepiece homelessness program.

The Liberals took a long look at the program after hearing complaints from cities about cumbersome reporting requirements, inadequate funding and unrealistic expectations about how quickly the money should be spent.

Under new rules being unveiled today, cities will be given leeway to spend money on local initiatives and experiments — so long as they can meet Ottawa’s goal of cutting in half the number of chronic homeless people in their midst.

New cities will become eligible for funding, expanding the spending that has already targeted 61 cities and towns across the country.

The 2017 federal budget doubled the amount of money the government plans to spend on the program, bringing total spending to $2.1 billion over the next decade.

The government says some of the new spending will target Indigenous Peoples — a group over-represented in shelters compared to their percentage of the general population — and communities in the territories.