GOVERNMENT
FUNDING

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
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Co-op Programs

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.

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The first federal co-op housing program was in place from 1973 to 1978. The Section 61 (formerly 34.18) program offered co-ops a 50-year mortgage at a fixed interest rate (usually 8%) along with a 10% capital grant that was earned over time. Housing charges varied between members. Some members paid more than the break-even 'rents' so that other, low-income members, could pay less (i.e. housing charges geared to income).
The second federal co-op housing program was in place from 1979 to 1985. Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) provided co-ops developed under the Section 95 (formerly 56.1) program a monthly subsidy to assist a minimum number of low-income members. The amount of subsidy available varied by co-op. The Section 95 program was the most successful in creating co-ops: more than 160 in BC were developed. (Many benefited from agreement extensions that running between 2016 and 2020.)
The third federal co-op housing program was in place from 1986 until 1992. It featured an innovative financing instrument known as the Index Linked Mortgage, a monthly mortgage subsidy from CMHC, and rent assistance for low-income members delivered by the province and cost-shared with CMHC for 30% to 50% of each co-op's households.
The provincial government funded the development of 14 more co-ops with 1,047 homes under the HOMES BC program. HOMES BC co-ops house a mix of low- and moderate-income members.
The scheduled expiry of federal programs created uncertainty for co-ops across the country, as those expiries could mean the end of subsidies. Following a sustained campaign from CHF BC, individual co-ops and members, and CHF Canada, the federal government's Federal Community Housing Initiative (FCHI) included measures to extend support for low-income co-op households. FCHI - Phase 1 offered temporary supports that targeted low-income households in Section 95 co-ops with operating agreements expiring between April 2016 and August 31, 2020. FCHI - Phase 2 (also known as the Rental Assistance Program) takes over From September 1, 2020 to March 31, 2028. It is open to the former FCHI-1 co-ops and other Section 95 co-ops as their agreements come to a conclusion. Other co-ops may be able to benefit from the Rental Assistance Program as it develops.
A growing number of co-ops are starting without a formal program offered by senior government. The Community Housing Sector is actively promoting co-op creation through its own resources. The Community Land Trust plays a major role and has its own rules in helping establish viable mixed-income communities.

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Rental Assistance Program (FCHI-2)

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.


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Preservation Funding

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:

  • Building condition assessments (BCAs);
  • Capital replacement reserve planning (CRP);
  • Energy audits;
  • Professional consultations analyzing operating viability or refinancing (Asset Management Plans can fit in under this category);
  • Assessing conversions to more age-friendly (i.e. aging in place) configurations; and
  • Related studies.

Learn more about CMHC’s Preservation Funding for Community Housing program and remember to talk to CHF BC’s long-term planning team.

 


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Co-Investment Fund

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.

Learn more here: https://www.cmhc-schl.gc.ca/en/nhs/co-investment-fund—housing-repair-and-renewal-stream


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Green Municipal Fund

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.

Learn more here: https://fcm.ca/en/funding/gmf/capital-project-retrofit-sustainable-affordable-housing