FREDERICTON (CNB) - The federal and provincial governments today officially signed a renewed Canada-New Brunswick Affordable Housing Program Agreement and an extension of the Housing Renovation Program Agreement.

The agreements will see both levels of government contribute to a joint investment of $99 million to build new homes and renovate existing affordable housing. The federal contribution is $53 million, while the province is contributing $46 million.

Greg Thompson, minister of veterans affairs; Premier Shawn Graham; and Social Development Minister Mary Schryer, who is also minister responsible for housing, made the announcement at the signing ceremony today.

"The Government of Canada is working hard support Canadians during these challenging economic times, and we have moved aggressively to ensure that our economic action plan is implemented rapidly," said Thompson. "We are helping our most vulnerable Canadians, including seniors and persons with disabilities, get access to suitable affordable housing. We are also making needed renovations to existing social housing, both in New Brunswick and across Canada."

Thompson attended on behalf of Diane Finley, minister of human resources and skills development Canada, and minister responsible for the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. (CMHC).

"Improved access to safe, secure and affordable housing will help us achieve self-sufficiency in our province, while also helping our economy by stimulating record affordable housing developments over the next two years," said Schryer. "It is estimated that every $1 million invested in housing generates economic spinoffs worth $2.5 million."

Today's announcement includes federal funding of $37.3 million over two years under Canada's Economic Action Plan as part of a one-time investment of more than $2 billion to build new - and renovate existing - social housing in Canada. The province will also contribute $37.3 million for these initiatives.

These investments build on the $1.9-billion commitment for housing and homelessness programs announced by the Government of Canada in September 2008, which extended for two years the Affordable Housing Initiative and the renovation programs for low-income households. Today's announcement includes a further combined investment of $24.1 million by both levels of government for the two-year extensions to build new affordable housing and assist low-income households with needed renovations to their homes.

"Our government is committed to the creation of more affordable housing for those in need," said Graham. "This agreement will provide for the creation of more than 500 new homes, while a further $39 million will be invested in repairs and upgrades to existing social housing infrastructure."

The announcement was held at the official opening of Luther Place Apartments, at 1039 Regent St. in Fredericton. The project consists of 45 affordable rental housing units for seniors and non-elderly singles, and was funded by the Government of Canada and the Province of New Brunswick under the existing Affordable Housing Initiative and the Housing Trust Fund. The project received $1.2 million in capital grants for construction costs, and $3.1 million from the province for rent supplements.

"I am very pleased that the federal government and New Brunswick are partnering to provide much-needed funding for affordable housing in our communities," said Ron Steeves, president of the New Brunswick Non-Profit Housing Association. "These investments will help lower-income people, seniors and families get access to affordable housing in New Brunswick."

More information may be found online, or by calling CMHC at 1-800-668-2642. For more information on Canada's Economic Action Plan, call 1-800-O Canada (1-800-622-6232).