People who are fleeing domestic violence, including those living on-reserve, need ready access to safe emergency shelter. Many also need second-stage or transitional housing as they prepare for independent living after leaving an abusive relationship.

We work closely with First Nations across Canada to ensure these essential services are available in their communities. Through our Shelter Enhancement Program (SEP) On-Reserve, we help pay for much-needed repairs and upgrades to existing shelters. We also provide financial support to those looking to build new shelters or second-stage housing projects.

Who is eligible for financial support?

This program is open to all First Nations or First Nation housing organizations that operate housing for people fleeing domestic violence.

What type of work is covered by this program?

Financial support is available to create a new shelter or second-stage housing. Funding can also be provided for upgrades to existing shelters or second-stage housing, including:

  • repairs to bring the property up to a minimum level of health and safety
  • modifications to make the property accessible to persons with disabilities
  • adaptations to provide safe play areas for children and an appropriate level of security for all occupants

This program covers only the capital costs of new construction or renovation. Operating support for shelters and second-stage housing must be secured through Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada or another acceptable source. For second-stage housing, occupants are expected to make modest contributions to offset the operating costs.

Important: Have you done any of this work before getting your application approved in writing? If so, that work won’t be eligible for funding under this program.

How much financial support is available?

For new construction, we will provide a forgivable loan for up to 100% of the project’s capital costs. The forgivable loan must be secured by a Ministerial Loan Guarantee for a period of 15 years.

For renovations, we will provide up to $60,000 for each unit or bed being updated. If your shelter is located on-reserve in northern or remote areas, the maximum amount may be increased by 25%.

In both cases, support is provided in the form of a forgivable loan. This means it doesn't have to be repaid as long as you meet all the terms and conditions.

Any costs above the maximum loan amount are the responsibility of the First Nation or shelter sponsor.

What if I need funding for a different kind of project?

You may be eligible for one of our other on-reserve housing programs. For example, we have a program to help with emergency repairs to on-reserve housing. There are also programs to fund accessibility modifications for people with disabilities and adaptations for seniors.

CMHC success stories

Ermineskin First Nation: Shelter renovations deliver lasting value for women and children.

For more information about this program, please contact your First Nation Housing Specialist.


Date Published: March 31, 2018