EDMONTON -- Edmonton will receive $17 million of $1 billion pledged by the federal government to Canadian cities working to provide homes for their homeless.

Ottawa revealed Tuesday its plan to distribute the funding: $500 million through municipalities, and $500 million for which provinces, cities and organizations can apply.

Mayor Don Iveson estimated his city’s portion would cover the cost of purchasing or building 74 units.

He said the city, which has already been exploring its options to purchase and retrofit or build housing, can start shopping more seriously now that it has a budget to work with.

“Having program specifics this fast is a really good sign that the dollars are going to move quickly,” he said.

“Our goal will be to move that within weeks, as opposed to months or years.”

Homeward Trust will help the city find organizations to run the services and look after the community asset.

However, Iveson hopes more dollars will flow westward from the country’s capital.

He said Edmonton was “very interested” in the merit-based projects stream through which the second half of the $1 billion is available.

“We’re in a very good position to bring in an aggressive set of applications forward. We have projects that are more or less shovel ready that we can advance, either modular construction … or with conversations we’ve had with more than two dozen hoteliers, there may be properties that may be suitable for us to acquire on an application basis.”

According to Iveson’s most recent information, there were 46 homeless encampments in the province’s capital city.

Over recent weeks, some individuals living in the Peace and Pekiwewin camps were moved into bridge housing.

And in future weeks, temporary space at the Edmonton Convention Center and the former Northlands' jockey dorms is also expected to come online.

In all, Iveson said he was pleased with the progress Edmonton has made since he set a 10-week timeline for the city to develop a homelessness strategy.

“In terms of a unit for everybody per housing first, that will not be in place within the 10-week timeline. That was never the specific goal. The goal was to create urgency around accommodation for everybody for this winter, and urgency in bringing the right kind of units online in a matter of months, not years. So I think we’ve accomplished that with the federal government’s announcement,” he commented.

Through the Rapid Housing Initiative, which is being delivered by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation under the National Housing Strategy, all of Canada’s biggest cities will receive funds. Calgary is set to receive $24.6 million, while Vancouver is being allocated $51.5 million and Toronto $203.3 million.

Cities will have until Dec. 31 to apply for project funding, and must commit to finishing the project within a year.

Canada’s National Housing Strategy aims to create 125,000 housing units and repair 300,000 more.