Emerging from the Sidelines!
Community Housing Growth, A Key Component to Provide a Roof for All
On average, over the past ten years, we have built 201,070 new homes per year across the country. During the same ten years, the number of households increased by an average of 150,293 per year. Similar figures have been repeated for half a century now. As supply has been growing faster than demand for so long, house prices should be at their lowest, but we all know very well that is not the case.
In fact, census data indicates that 322,600 affordable housing units have disappeared between 2011 and 2016. Even more concerning, all the indicators we have had access to since 2016 lead us to believe that the 2021 data will show that the loss will amount to at least 500,000 affordable homes.
In terms of community housing, the total net number unit has remained at 600,000 for the past 25 years. Even the federal government’s recent and lauded National Housing Strategy limits its ambitions to 50,000 new community housing units (out of a total of 100,000 new affordable homes) by 2028.
The 1.7 million Canadian households who bleed each month to pay their rent better have a substantial supply of hemoglobin because help does not seem to be on its way!
The causes behind the inability of the housing market to meet the needs and means of large facets of the population are numerous and complex. But foremost, we think of the speculation generated by the financialization and commodification of residential real estate.
For the Centre, the only way to achieve the right to housing for all is to protect a significant part of the residential stock from these phenomena. As such, community housing (NPOs, Cooperatives, Land Trusts) is a choice mechanism with demonstrated usefulness and effectiveness.
Therefore, it is essential to reverse the process of marginalization that began 25 years ago and aggressively relaunch the development of community housing stock.
While the past two decades have not been positive in this regard overall, this should not prevent us from appreciating the will, efforts, and successes of the community housing sector in recent years to combat this trend. These successes, while modest, should be seen as a source of inspiration, demonstrating the sector’s ability to help turn things around in the housing market.
The Centre believes that the community housing sector has three main tools to influence the future of housing, and our role is to turn the dial on all three of them.
First, we can and we must make our voices heard. The 600,000 households that live in our homes, the tens of thousands of volunteers and employees who contribute to it, the millions of poorly housed people across the country, and the many organizations concerned with social justice, intergenerational equity and respect for the environment must unite to obtain budgetary, regulatory, and political measures that support the revival of rapid development of community housing.
Second, we can leverage our assets. The community housing movement has resources (land, buildings, financial reserves), which, if well-coordinated, can act in a meaningful way. Currently, in general, these assets are managed passively. Without participating in the speculation process, we can increase the value of what we already have in hand. Thousands of sites could be densified, and with thousands of our buildings now being mortgage-free (or close to that), they could be used as collateral to obtain financing to acquire or build homes.
Third, we can be creative and innovative. In addition to material resources, we bring together a large number of people (our tenants, our volunteers, the poorly housed) and social resources (our organizations, the scientific community, allies in the social and cooperative economy). Management and the level of mobilization can be improved. Whether by pooling some systems (management, IT, maintenance, etc.), by enhancing the training and skills of our employees and directors, or by exploring new financial models (patient capital, co-ownership, cross-investments, etc.), we can do better with what we have in hand. Several initiatives emerged in recent years; we must study, learn, and be inspired by them so we can generalize the successful ones while continuing to explore new avenues.
Upon these assertions and ambitions, the Centre commits to:
- Promote and leverage existing funding models for growth.
- Support the exploration of new growth models (acquisition, land trust, other).
- Increase access to tools and resources to promote community housing as a solution.
- Identify sector gaps (emerging issues and opportunities) and fill them (e.g. impacts of boom and bust economic cycles).
Learn about News and Awarded Projects that relate to
Long perceived as a Mecca for single-family homeowners, the West Island of Montréal has been a lonely place for tenants seeking support services. A grant from the Centre, however, is helping turn the tide by funding the establishment of its first housing association.
The federal government announced $1.5 billion for the second round of the rapid housing initiative on June 30. This phase of the program, which addresses some of the concerns raised in the first round, was well received by community-housing stakeholders, although they want the initiative to be become a permanent program.
Being a housing manager is rewarding, but not for the faint-hearted. And for those working on reserve, it can be a lonely career path—something the First Nations Housing Professionals Association hopes to remedy. Since 2019, it has been working to professionalize this career path and offer its support to housing professionals across the country.
WoodGreen Community Services in Toronto has an ambitious plan to build 2,000 affordable housing units over 10 years. To tackle the challenge, the non-profit organization, founded in 1937, turned to the Community Housing Transformation Centre to help it acquire the resources it needs for the campaign.
A coalition of housing and homelessness organizations has joined forces to launch an awareness campaign to motivate Canadians to “vote housing” in the next federal election. The campaign officially took off today.
Faith-based organizations are often asset-rich but cash-poor. With a little help, however, they can take action to support the supply of affordable housing in their communities, and thus address issues such as loneliness and homelessness. This is the story of Co:Here Housing in Vancouver, born out of a partnership between Grandview Church and the Salsbury Community Society.
How do community housing organizations ensure survival, growth and anticipate the future? These are issues that Birch Housing, which has been in operation since 1975 in the Toronto area, has been thinking about. It inspired them to go undergo a process to better understand their situation and to reposition themselves with a mission, clearly defined vision, values and directions, with a view to ensure not only survival but growth.
Cohousing could be a remedy for the social isolation experienced by many—young and old—and could reduce the human footprint on the planet. But this type of community is still uncommon in Canada and can take many years to develop. The non-profit Village Urbain is currently developing a cohousing project destined for the greater Montréal area, and aims to “professionalize” this unique form of community.
The Ontario Non-Profit Housing Association has set ambitious goals in its plans to address Indigenous housing needs. With one-in-four Indigenous persons in Ontario living in poverty, affordable housing is seen as an important way to reduce stressors faced by so many First Nations, Métis and Inuit people, both on- and off-reserve.
Discover Projects that Transform the Community Housing Sector
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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.