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Vancity launches Retrofit Program for Non-Profit Affordable Housing Providers

  • Maintenance backlog offers opportunity to get on pathway to net-zero
  • Grants of up to $80,000 available for non-profit housing providers

Thursday, June 9, 2022, Territories of Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh Nations/Vancouver B.C. Vancity, Canada’s largest community credit union, today launched its new Non-Profit Housing Retrofit Program. The initiative marks another step in the credit union’s efforts to support climate-ready affordable housing, helping to build a clean and fair world in which no one is left behind.

The program, which is available to hundreds of non-profit housing providers across BC, aims to improve energy efficiency, reduce carbon emissions, and boost the overall sustainability of the province’s affordable housing stock. Non-profit housing providers, that are also Vancity members, are eligible to apply for grants up to $80,000 to support the development of retrofit projects.

Vancity is committing $5 million to the program over the next three years, with plans to increase the investment as the program evolves. Funds are being made available through Shared Success, the program through which Vancity shares 30% of its net profits with members and community every year.

The first phase of the program will offer grants and in-kind support to facilitate foundational work in advance of retrofits, such as energy studies and portfolio planning. Collaboration with program applicants will further shape the program, ensuring the unique needs of non-profit housing providers are met. The second phase of the program will add supports for housing co-operatives and help finance project implementation.

Several studies have shown Vancouver and the surrounding municipalities to be among the least affordable places to live in the world. Publicly supported affordable housing offers much needed homes for the most vulnerable in BC, and many of these buildings are managed by non-profit housing organizations. However, BC’s non-profit housing stock requires major re-investment to address a maintenance deficit estimated to total $1.25 billion over ten years, up to 2027.*

"The climate crisis will have a greater impact on those who've had the least to do with creating it in the first place," said Andrea Harris, Vancity's Vice President, Impact Strategy. "From supporting affordable housing to crafting solutions that promote a just transition toward a revitalized, sustainable economy, this program will make a tangible difference to our communities."

The credit union’s ambition is to become net-zero by 2040 across all its mortgages and loans; in 2021, mortgages made up almost 90 per cent of the credit union’s lending-related emissions.** The Non-Profit Housing Retrofit Program will help participants identify opportunities for deep retrofits – those that will result in a significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and put the property on the pathway to net-zero.

Designed to support and simplify the retrofit process, the new program is intended to complement existing government supports, such as the CleanBC Social Housing Incentives Program, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities’ Sustainable Affordable Housing Program, and Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s National Housing Co-Investment Fund.

Vancity is funding strategic partnerships with the BC Non-Profit Housing Association (BCNPHA) and the Aboriginal Housing Management Association (AHMA) to roll out the Non-Profit Housing Retrofit Program. Vancity will provide strategic partnership grants to both associations to build capacity in the sector.

“We’re so pleased to work with Vancity to support solutions that address the maintenance needs in non-profit housing in a way that improves tenant safety amid the effects of climate change,” said Jill Atkey, CEO at BCNPHA. “The sector is motivated to do its part to support the transition to a low-carbon future.”

“Supportive funding of this nature is rare and critical to improving the lives of Indigenous families across BC,” said Margaret Pfoh, AHMA’s Chief Executive Officer. “Through this retrofit program, Vancity is helping AHMA’s housing partners respond to serious challenges in keeping up with capital repairs and the cost of energy for those most impacted by housing insecurity. We commend Vancity for actively pursuing action on reconciliation, equity, and the environment.”

Vancity is supporting Affine Climate Solutions to provide consulting services to selected program participants to develop climate-aligned portfolio plans that promote emission reductions, resilience, and maintenance priorities.

Michaela Neuberger, Executive Director, Affine Climate Solutions commented, ”we are delighted to partner with Vancity and non-profit housing providers on this pioneering program.” Adding, “the targeted buildings house members of our community who are not only most significantly impacted by the housing affordability crisis, but also by the consequences of climate change. As we approach the anniversary of the 2021 heat dome, we are reminded of the importance to future-proof affordable homes to protect those who are most at risk in extreme heat.”

The credit union looks forward to introducing additional community partnerships as they are confirmed. Please visit the website for more details about the Non-Profit Housing Retrofit Program.

About Vancity

Vancity is a values-based financial co-operative serving the needs of its more than 560,000 member-owners and their communities, with offices and 54 branches located in Metro Vancouver, the Fraser Valley, Victoria, Squamish and Alert Bay, within the territories of the Coast Salish and Kwakwaka’wakw people. With $33 billion in assets plus assets under administration, Vancity is Canada’s largest community credit union. Vancity uses its assets to help improve the financial well-being of its members while at the same time helping to develop healthy communities that are socially, economically and environmentally sustainable.

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Supporting Information

  • The Vancity Affordable Housing Accelerator Fund, which is delivered in collaboration with the Vancity Community Foundation (VCF), has supported the development of 4,200 affordable rental homes since 2011 with 75 loans for 59 unique housing projects developed by 31 non-profit housing organizations.
  • Vancity subsidiary, VCIB, financed projects to create or preserve 1,182 units of affordable housing in 2021.
  • Vancity offers Planet-Wise Business Solutions to encourage energy‑efficient and climate‑friendly retrofits at incentivized rates for Vancity members. The Planet-Wise Climate Business Guide for Climate Action supports small businesses in transitioning to a low-carbon economy. Vancity is launching a new free Energy Advice Service for members.
  • In April 2021, Vancity became the first Canadian financial institution to join the Net-Zero Banking Alliance.
  • In 2020, Vancity declared its support for the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD).
  • In 2019, the credit union signed the Global Alliance for Banking on Values’ Climate Change Commitment and joined the Partnership for Carbon Accounting Financials (PCAF), committing to measure and disclose the climate impact of its loans and investments.
  • Vancity is a signatory to the United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative’s (UNEP FI) Collective Commitment to Climate Action, which requires signatories to set and publish targets for aligning their portfolios to strive for a 1.5 degree Celsius trajectory, based on scientifically established climate scenarios.
  • Vancity’s President and CEO, Christine Bergeron, represents North America on the UNEP FI’s Banking Board.
* In the decade following the 2017 publication of the BC Affordable Housing Plan.
** Measured scope 1 and 2 lending-related emissions.