Resolution 1: Renewed Federal Advocacy Priorities
SUBMITTED BY: CHF Canada Board of Directors
CONTACT: Dallas Alderson
Director, Public Affairs and Policy
311 – 225 Metcalfe Street
Ottawa, ON K2P 1P9
Tel: (800) 465-2752
- THAT CHF Canada renew its federal advocacy priorities in order to align them with the strategic objectives of sustainability and inclusive growth of co-operative housing in Canada;
- THAT CHF Canada’s federal advocacy priorities call on the federal government to:
- Develop a new non-market housing construction and acquisition program as part of the National Housing Strategy (NHS) in order to develop many new affordable co-op homes, including Indigenous co-ops;
- Commit to long-term rental assistance to provide affordability and security for low income co-op members over the long-term and regardless of where they live;
- Improve and accelerate the NHS Co-Investment Fund, to support the repair and
development of co-op homes; and
- Expand the NHS Federal Lands Initiative, to support land acquisition specifically for new co-op development.
- AND THAT these priorities be reflected in CHF Canada’s core activities and communications, including its planned federal election campaign.
OUR REASONS FOR THIS RESOLUTION ARE:
1. A new National Housing Strategy (NHS) program designed specifically for non-market housing (co-ops and non-profits) is important for a number of reasons:
a. There is a gap in the existing NHS. Currently, co-ops that seek funding are competing against for-profit developers. Their larger capacity and equity give them an advantage. This has resulted in limited uptake of the NHS from co-ops, resulting in few new co-op homes.
b. The time is right. The current federal government has indicated interest in partnering specifically with co-ops and non-profits over the medium- to long-term within the National Housing Strategy. This was formally indicated in the October 2020 Speech from the Throne and revisions to the mandate letter of the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development. This non-market program recommendation provides a concrete vision of how to implement that commitment.
c. For the acquisition part of the recommended program, the future of affordable housing is threatened by the growing trend of financialization. Financialization of housing drives up the cost of rent to benefit investors and speculators. Active efforts to increase rent levels are eroding the relative affordability of private rental properties.
The federal program should use a proven method to counter this: provide support to co-ops and non-profits to acquire (purchase) private rental properties to ensure they remain affordable. Many co-ops began as acquisitions, particularly in Ontario and Quebec.
d. For the construction part of the recommended program, housing construction is a job creator. At a time when economic recovery is a priority, new co-op construction is an obvious benefit to a stimulus plan. Given the mixed-income nature of co-ops, it would also help address socio-economic inequities made worse by the pandemic.
2. Long-term rental assistance must be secured if co-ops are to be sustainable. While significant progress on this front has been made through the Federal Community Housing Initiative (FCHI) and the Temporary Rental Assistance initiative, there is more to do, including:
a. Ensuring co-ops located in regions where FCHI is not in place have equal access to secure rental assistance;
b. Extending the Temporary Rental Assistance initiative beyond its one-year timeline; and
c. Committing to the extension of the FCHI beyond 2028, when it is currently scheduled to expire.
3. Very few co-op projects have received funding under the NHS Co-Investment Fund. Changes to this Fund would make it accessible to co-op projects, both new development and repair/renewal. Specifically:
a. The Fund should offer pre-development support that does not require upfront investment by the applicant, since this limits the Fund to the few housing developers with existing equity;
b. The Fund should no longer require co-investors as a pre-condition of federal support given the significant COVID-19 fiscal pressures faced by typical co-investors, such as provinces, territories and local governments;
c. The Fund’s application process should be streamlined and simplified. Most co-ops do not have full-time staff available to spend the time currently required to complete the application process; and
d. The Fund’s loan approval timeline needs to be expedited to be in line with private financial institution standards.
4. An increase to the existing NHS Federal Lands Initiative is needed because the cost of land is often the biggest barrier to development. Combining the expertise and experience of the co-op sector with surplus federal land will catalyze the development of affordable co-op homes across the country.
WE THINK THAT THIS WILL COST:
Funding for CHF Canada’s government relations and lobbying activities have been included in the 2021 operating budgets.