Backgrounder: Vancity's investment in affordable housing

Vancity invests in stable and affordable housing because we believe it is a driver of economic self-reliance, which in turn improves the well-being of our local communities. We offer learning resources and tools, along with professional advice, to help members choose the mortgage option that’s tailored to their unique needs. We’re also working to increase the supply of affordable rental and owned housing.

When adequate and affordable housing is available, it reduces pressure on subsidized housing units by getting more people into private housing. We’re working with a wide range of partners to increase and upgrade the stock of affordable housing, including: emergency and homeless shelters, transition housing, non-profit or subsidized housing, co-op housing, rental housing, on-reserve housing, life leases and property ownership.

Increasing supply of affordable housing

  • Since 2009, Vancity has funded investments of more than $1.48 billion to support the development affordable housing stock in B.C.
  • In 2017, 2,907 affordable housing units were constructed or renovated with funding from Vancity.
  • Since 2011, the Vancity Community Foundation has granted about $1.2 million to build capacity through 85 projects led by not-for-profit organizations in the affordable housing sector.
  • Since the beginning of 2014, Vancity has granted more than $7.3 million to organizations in B.C. for affordable housing initiatives.
  • Since 2011, Vancity has disbursed $7.8 million in pre-development funds, resulting in 1,954 purpose-built below market rental housing units in 33 development projects.
  • Vancity offers financial planning and advice initiatives that assist members into appropriate housing, such as:

Funded affordable housing projects

The following are examples of affordable housing projects Vancity has funded through loans or grants throughout the Lower Mainland and Victoria regions:

  • $600,000 to Catalyst Community Development Society and Oakridge Lutheran Church in Vancouver to redevelop the property into a 46 unit, six-storey, mixed-use building with retail at street level, a new church and community space on the second floor, and four levels of affordable rental housing above the church.
  • $450,000 to the Greater Victoria Housing Society to redevelop Townley Lodge, in Saanich creating 64 affordable housing units for seniors, families and people living with disabilities.
  • $350,000 to Phoenix Rising Sun to create 42 housing units in Surrey and develop the Shared Equity Home Ownership at Rising Sun program, which gives individuals who are making positive changes in their lives and who value community participation a way to enter the real estate market.
  • $200,000 to Mount Douglas Seniors Housing Society and Anglican Diocese of British Columbia in Saanich, to develop an additional 84 units of affordable housing for low-income seniors, that will be adjacent to their existing seniors housing complex.
  • $200,000 to Semiahmoo House Society to develop 70 unit rental apartment. Some of units will be provided to people with developmental disabilities and the remainder will be rented at reasonable "low end of market" rents.
  • $250,000 to Catalyst Community Development Society to deliver projects that generate revenues for re-investment to create deeper affordability and high performance buildings, including 49 units of below market rental housing at Madrona Dockside Green.
  • $500,000 to Community Housing Land Trust to deliver 358 units of housing affordable to a broad range of Vancouver residents, from the most vulnerable to those who simply need an affordable place to call home.
  • $70,000 to Affordable Housing Journalism Project, which promotes affordable housing solutions that allow working middle class to live within city where they work.
  • $250,000 to British Columbia Non-Profit Housing Association to develop a Rental Housing Index. BCNPHA undertook a three-year research and development project to create a web-based rental housing index that will set the baseline for reporting on the state of the housing sector in B.C. Subsequently, the data set expanded to include all of Canada, and was recently updated with 2016 census data.
  • $400,000 term loan to Co-operative Housing Federation of British Columbia for tenant improvements to the Co-op Housing Federation.
  • $1,174,000 to support Greater Victoria Housing Society to acquire and develop affordable rental housing.
  • Provision of a $50,000 grant, along with a $1,875,000 mortgage to Cowichan Green Community Society, to develop The Station - a community hub that rents space to like-minded organizations and includes affordable housing units.
  • $180,000 to First Avenue Athletes Village Housing Cooperative for a Security of Tenure Fund for co-op members, preventing economic evictions and allowing members who fall on hard times to remain in their homes.

Supporting the development of impact real estate projects

The following are examples of how Vancity has supported community investment opportunities (through lending, investment, and grants). We engage in three tiers of activity:

  • Project Support: co-developing proactive and responsive tools and accessing resources to co-generate impact real estate projects. The mutual learning from collaborating on real projects provides foundational insights for Vancity on its strengths and gaps, as well as building our integrity and confidence in serving our members effectively.
  • Sector Development: building partnerships to enhance our collective understanding of systemic strengths and weaknesses as a means to identify—and raise awareness of—the key issues, opportunities and challenges facing the impact real estate sector
  • Policy Development: transforming current public policy into an enabling environment for high impact real estate development by collaborating with members, sector partners, and various levels of government on ways to address key issues, opportunities, and challenges.

Specifically, Vancity, in close partnership with Vancity Community Foundation, provides capital products to support affordable housing projects at each stage in the development process:

  • Vision: grant support (usually $5,000), where necessary, to articulate expected impact and innovation for the project and how it reinforces the mission of the partnering member.
  • Feasibility: grant support (usually between $15,000 and $25,000), where critical for preliminary development concepts and feasibility assessments and to understand and maximize the potential for innovation and impact.
  • Business Plan: grant support (usually between $15,000 and $25,000) to cost-share business plan development, including site selection, control, green building strategies and incentives, roles and responsibilities, assembling the development team, fund-raising and fund-development.
  • Pre-Development: revolving Pre-Development Loan Fund for pre-development loans and pre-construction loans (usually up to $400,000) through Vancity and Vancity Community Foundation, repaid through construction financing or after five years of operations, and customized Community Investment funds to address equity shortfalls.
  • Construction: commercial real estate construction financing up to $40 million (higher with syndication) with variable rate mortgages and 6-18-month terms, including escrow financing, available for land acquisitions and multi-family residential properties, with specialized not-for-profit lending expertise including cash management, beneficial partnerships and financial literacy.
  • Occupancy: take-out financing up to $40 million (higher with syndication) with variable rate mortgages and 6-18-month terms and/or commercial mortgages with a range of terms and amortization periods for refinancing or renovating properties, or consolidating debts.

Last updated November, 2018