National Housing Co-Investment Fund: What We Know So Far
In May 2018 the federal government launched their new National Housing Co-Investment Fund. First announced as part of the National Housing Strategy in November 2017, the Fund will provide close to $13.2 billion in direct financial contributions and low-interest loans over the next 10 years.
Projects backed by the Fund are meant to support the federal government’s climate change initiatives and improve accessibility. The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) has also set targets of:
- 60,000 new units
- 240,000 repaired units
- 4,000 shelter spaces for victims of family violence created or repaired
- 7,000 new affordable units for seniors
- 2,400 new affordable units for people with developmental disabilities
The Co-Investment Fund will be delivered via two streams of funding:
1) The New Construction Stream ($7.45 billion)
2) The Repair and Renewal Stream ($5.72 billion)
Read on for more details about the New Construction Stream. ONPHA will provide more information about the Repair and Renewal Stream in a future Quick Connections article.
New Construction Steam
The New Construction Stream is designed to “support construction of new affordable housing supply, focusing on developing mixed-income, mixed-tenure, and mixed-use housing near transit and other amenities, integrated with supports and services, with additional focus on environmental efficiency, accessibility, social inclusion and partnerships.”
This stream will provide $5.19 in low-interest loans and $2.26 in direct contributions across Canada. Successful projects can receive loans, capital contributions or a combination of both. Further details about the length, terms and maximum amounts of loans and contributions can be found in the CMHC Product Highlight Sheet.
Some ONPHA members have already begun the application process, and many others have said they are interested in starting the process. For those considering an application, we’re answering some of your common questions below.
Is my organization eligible?
To be eligible for funding through the National Housing Co-Investment Fund, applicants must:
- Secure contributions from another level of government (monetary or in-kind which could include land, accelerated approval processes, waived charges and fees, tax rebates, and other loans)
- Have a minimum of five units or beds and be primarily residential
- Meet certain requirements related to property management experience, construction management experience and credit and repayment history (although alternate arrangements may be considered for newly formed groups)
Does my organization’s project qualify?
Applicants must meet the following minimum requirements:
- Financial viability: Applicants must demonstrate financial and operational ability to carry the project and to deal with development risks
- Affordability: 30% of units must be less than 80% of the Median Market Rent for at least 20 years
- Energy Efficiency: New projects must show how they will achieve a minimum 25% decrease in energy use and Greenhouse Gas emissions over the most recent national building and energy codes
- Accessibility: 20% of units must meet or exceed accessibility standards and common areas must be barrier fee or have full universal design applied
Please note: CMHC is encouraging organizations to submit applications even if they think they fall short of minimum requirements as they are still trying to determine the needs that exist in the sector.
Which applications will be given priority?
Beyond the minimum requirements, applications will also be prioritized based on a number of criteria including:
- Exceeding affordability, accessibility or energy efficiency criteria
- Partnerships with others
- Proximity to amenities including: transit; grocery stores; parks; pharmacies; community centres; elementary schools; libraries; child care; health care services; and job opportunities
- Supporting priority group or vulnerable populations
- Services to support tenants onsite
How do I apply?
Applications for the National Housing Co-Investment Fund will be accepted on a continuous basis and can be accessed through CMHC’s online application portal. You will be asked to answer around 200 questions ranging from basic organizational details to specific details about your project.
CMHC is accepting applications on an ongoing basis and will review and prioritize applications every 60 days. At the end of each window, they will let applicants know whether their proposed project has been selected for further assessment, retained for the next 60-day prioritization window, or declined. The first 60-day window closed on June 30, 2018, and the next one will close at the end of August, 2018.
Applicants are encouraged to contact their regional Affordable Housing Consultant for more information about the Fund or for help with preparing their application.
The National Housing Co-Investment Fund will be fully administered through CMHC, but the bilateral agreement signed between Ontario and the federal government in April 2018 suggests that there may be a role for provincial and municipal governments in ensuring projects meet local needs. It is unclear how this will take shape at this point.
What We’ve Heard
ONPHA has heard early concerns from members about limited ability to take on more debt, the unique barriers that will make it difficult for Aboriginal housing providers to take advantage of the Fund, and some of the challenges providers are having with the format of the online application itself. We have communicated this early feedback to CMHC along with suggestions for how these concerns might be addressed. Read the full letter to CMHC here.
Share Your Experience
If your organization has applied for the National Housing Co-Investment Fund, we would like to hear about your experience with the application process. If you have a story you’re willing to share, please get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 1-800-297-9144, ext. 109.