Co-ops are independent organizations, but to achieve their missions they often work in partnership with other co-ops and with government. Most non-profit housing co-ops were created under funding programs established by the federal government or by the provinces. Some forms of support were general (directed at the co-op as a whole); others have targeted low-income households residing in the co-ops. Some supports target capital projects.Co-op Programs | Rental Assistance Program (FCHI-2) | Preservation Funding | Co-Investment Fund | Green Municipal Fund
Over the years, both the federal and provincial governments have created programs to support the development of non-profit housing co-ops. The Community Land Trust also fosters co-op creation.
The Rental Assistance Program, part of the Federal Community Housing Initiative, Phase 2 (FCHI-2), is the successor to CMHC's Section 95 and ILM programs. Co-ops exiting their original operating agreements or FCHI-1 support may be eligible between September 2020 and the end of March 2028.
The program targets low-income households that can’t afford a co-op’s maximum housing charges without exceeding 30% of their household income. As income fluctuates, the level of support may also fluctuate, but the total number of supported households is generally fixed at the time of program sign-up.
The program may not be compatible with some grants offered by municipal governments. Here are some additional resources:
Note: The Agency has confirmed that the BC Recovery Benefit is excluded from income under FCHI-2/RAP.
CMHC’s Preservation Funding for Community Housing program offers assistance to help co-ops (and other non-profits) better understand their assets. Its focus is on studies. This means there’s money available to help co-ops plan for the future, develop asset management plans and better understand their options.
Co-ops with a Section 95, ILM or Section 61 agreement are eligible to apply. Grants are potentially eligible for:
Part of the National Housing Strategy, the Co-investment Fund has two streams: one for new construction and another focused on renovations.
CMHC sets significant eligibility criteria to access this competitive program, focused on low-interest loans and (to a lesser extent) grants.
There are criteria like energy efficiency, affordability, and accessibility. Many co-ops will find the criteria very difficult (or even impossible) to achieve for renovation projects. Beyond that, there are evaluations based on how well other priorities are met. Leasehold co-ops with fewer than 20 years remaining on their leases will not be able to apply, but others may find the possibility of loans at lower interest rates than private lenders can offer — and grants — attractive options.
The Green Municipal Fund administered by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) offers grants and low-interest loans that can assist with both studies and capital projects that aim to reduce energy use.
The Green Municipal Fund is similar to CMHC’s Co-Investment Fund in its requirements regarding energy efficiency, but there is no requirement of accessibility. This can make it a good alternative for buildings where accessibility upgrades are impossible without structural changes. Regardless of accessibility conditions, it is an option worth considering, as the potential size of the grant portion is tied to the increase in buildings’ energy efficiency.