Creativity and Knowledge Sharing, Keystones of Resilience
Like many other social advances in our society, modern community housing took root in the postwar era. Housing, along with education, health, old-age pensions, and other programs, gradually weaved the social safety net providing vital services accessible to all inhabitants of this territory.
For and by the community
As with all social programs, government housing policies have seen their ups and downs over time. But 70 years after its inception, the sector has grown into a well-established universe that can proudly testify to the ability of communities to acquire, build, and manage a building stock that provides adequate and affordable housing to hundreds of thousands of people living between the three oceans that surround us.
As the name suggests, the main feature of community housing is that it is owned and managed by the community itself. Over time, the creativity and inventiveness of individuals and communities have made it possible to develop various formulas (cooperative, non-profit, land trust, cohabitation, “share equity mortgage” loans, municipal housing, etc.) fitting the specific conditions with which they are faced. Each time the economy, legal framework, and demographic and social context evolve, community housing adjusts, reinvents itself, and finds appropriate solutions.
Today, the community housing sector is again at a crossroads and must find ways to respond to the specific challenges that accompany the particular circumstances we are facing.
The entire real estate world is undergoing significant structural changes brought about by elements that were completely unknown just a few years ago, namely,, among others, financialization, the gentrification of urban centers, a rapidly ageing population, a reduction in the size of households, new government policies, and the emergence of environmental concerns.
Other internal elements, although having been foreseeable for some time, confront us and require immediate adjustments, such as the end of operating agreements binding most community housing providers to a government and housing stock in need of major repairs.
In responding to these and other challenges, the communal nature of the community housing sector emerges as its main strength. This nature is expressed, first of all, by the involvement of tens of thousands of people willing to devote time, intelligence, and effort to positively contribute to the realization of the right to housing for all.
For the Centre, this means that as a sector, we must use the energy, goodwill, and collective expertise of our members, tenants, employees, partners, and allies. Together, these people and organizations represent an extraordinary pool of knowledge, experience, and creativity. We must, collectively, find the best tools, the most ambitious means, and the most effective methods. It is also owing to and through this community knowledge that we are able to educate ourselves, test different solutions, and learn from each other’s experiences. The meaning of the term “community” clearly includes our allies and friends. We must also examine practices that are currently unknown to us but may already be at work in other jurisdictions or other economic and social sectors.
To succeed in meeting the challenge of resilience and being true to our roots, we must ensure that the reflections and experiences we engage in protect our values and are closely monitored and evaluated by our democratic structures. After all, saving our assets but losing our soul would not be a victory.
In light of the above, the role of the Centre is to support to its best ability the resilience of the sector by developing and implementing innovative practices that will facilitate the maintenance, development, and improvement of the services offered by community housing providers of all shapes and sizes. The Centre does this by carefully following the evolution of these experiences and sharing the results obtained with the whole sector. Thus, by seeking the most active and effective collaborations and partnerships possible with all organizations in the sector that share this vision, the knowledge developed with our resources will belong to the entire community housing world.
Upon these assertions and ambitions, the Centre commits itself to:
- Improve the quality of management and governance in the sector
- Enhance community housing providers’ awareness of their business results
- Support providers in exploring new management and business models
Learn about News and Awarded Projects that relate to
Resilience and Innovative Practices
While we now know housing plays a significant role in carbon emissions, many community housing providers are confused about steps to take to reverse the trend. Concerned with rising energy prices and renovation costs, groups turn to the Centre’s regional energy coaches for valuable, free of charge, expertise.
Afraid they could be pushed out of their changing neighbourhood, a group of neighbours organized and formed their own cooperative. A shared passion for environmentally friendly design lay the groundwork for a net-zero, and socially inclusive, housing ecosystem.
The construction and operation of buildings is responsible for a large part of global carbon emissions. Ever wondered how you can do your part to make housing greener? Here are a few ideas—that could also benefit from a grant from the Centre—to get you started.
Out of the mists of Owen Sound, Ontario, a net-zero land trust project is taking form that hopes to inspire and encourage ecologically sustainable forms of modern, non-profit housing communities across Canada.
Indigenous people are often the first to feel the effects of climate change. From disruptions of traditional hunting and fishing routines to shortened ice-road seasons, the ecological crisis affects daily life in very concrete ways in Canada’s northern communities. Since housing is the largest consumer of energy, the Indigenous Clean Energy (ICE) Social Enterprise seeks to share innovative approaches both within Indigenous communities and with the community-housing sector as a whole.
Thanks in part to a $50,000 grant from the Centre, Hamilton East Kiwanis Non-Profit Homes and Victoria Park Community Homes are joining forces on a housing development that will see 367 affordable rental units built in Hamilton, Ont. They are experimenting with a new collaborative model that will allow smaller and niche-housing providers to build on their strengths and capacities to better compete with the private sector.
A $1-billion federal grant program for the rapid construction of 3,000 units of affordable housing attracted interest from so many groups that hundreds of viable projects won’t make the cut. The possibility of a renewed RHI program has led housing groups to propose improvements to the hugely popular initiative in anticipation of a second wave of construction to meet the basic needs of Canadians.
The CMHC’s annual Northern Housing Report paints a bleak picture of the housing market in Canada’s northern territories, where a high percentage of residents lack suitable, adequate and affordable housing.
The Federation of Canadian Municipalities’ (FCM) Sustainable Affordable Housing initiative is putting $300 million on the table to offset the cost of environmentally friendly measures at all project stages, including planning, study, piloting, capital construction or retrofit. In partnership with FCM, the Community Housing Transformation Centre is working to assist affordable housing providers to tap into the funds.
Sectoral Impact Projects
Develop new services, models or tools to help the sector build and manage affordable housing.
Sector Transformation Fund
Enhance the capacity of your local organization to provide affordable housing in a better way.
Community-Based Tenant Initiative
Develop projects that aim to engage tenants/co-op members in housing decisions that affect them.