Collaborative solutions for Canada’s housing crisis: Why non-profits are essential


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The gravity of Canada’s housing crisis demands immediate collaborative action. Canada needs to work together to see solutions in action. This means that all levels of the government and the development industry, including non profit organizations, must have the same goal. That is to create multiple housing options, including rental and owner-occupied homes, which will build healthy and thriving communities.


Working together for transformational change


Transformational change occurs when participants willingly accept government incentives. Last fall, for example, the federal government announced that GST would no longer be charged on purpose-built rental housing. This was a major step in encouraging the development and investment of more rental housing. Developers across the country reopened several projects in the development pipeline previously on hold, many making public commitments to adding new units to Canada’s housing stock. 

This type incentive is definitely a step in a positive direction. If we saw this was possible for purpose-built rentals, it’s important to develop a framework where this can be applied to the ownership market, making the pathway to homeownership an option for more Canadians. Non-profits could help us achieve this. 


How non-profits could help more Canadians buy a home


Home Ownership Alternatives is a financial non-profit corporation that I lead. We work with both for-profit as well as non-profit developers to make homeownership a real possibility for Canadians. Options for Homes, a non-profit developer, is our main development partner. HOA offers first-time buyers a second mortgage to help them make a deposit on a home within our developments.

Last month, HOAs and Options for Homes decided that they would work together to Join forces under the same leadershipOur joint mission is to increase the supply of affordable housing suites available on the market. While bringing together these organizations will help us develop and deliver our housing pipeline, we still require support and significant contributions by private and public partners in order to continue making non-profit development possible. 


Non-profits and housing access: Challenges they face


Homeownership is only one type of housing in a spectrum of housing that is important to all Canadians. But while more Canadians from all stages of life feel their pathway to enter the housing market is slipping, it’s important for non-profit organizations to exist and thrive to give more Canadians the pathway and option for ownership, something that should not only be reserved for a select few. 

While non-profits are equipped with the expertise, knowledge and skills to provide the right housing to the right people, they still face significant challenges. These include regulatory barriers and a lack of capital and land to develop. 

We can lower the cost of building new stock for non-profits through government incentives and strategic partnership. We reduce the cost of housing.

It’s in this process that we can begin to scratch the surface of this crisis, addressing the housing deficit built up over decades to provide more housing options for Canadians. 


The health and vitality of our cities is at risk


While the housing problem continues to be solved by building more and quicker, consideration must also given to How to get startedThe following are some examples of how to get started: What is the best way to get in touch with you?We build. When we discuss housing solutions, we must also consider the health of our cities. 

When artists, educators, small-business owners, hospitality workers and new Canadians can’t afford to live in cities, we put the health of culture and services at risk. If we cannot house our workforce, employers may choose to leave our cities. The real threat to our cities is their health and vitality. 


Innovative housing models can help


Innovative housing models such as co-living and rent-to own offer promising solutions, increasing supply and enhancing social and environmental sustainability in neighbourhoods. By encouraging such models with zoning reforms, and incentives, we can encourage non-profit development aligned with broader community health and resilience goals. 


We need to build all types of housing in Canada if we want healthy, vibrant and vital cities. We need non-profits to be at the table. 

Ultimately, Canada’s housing crisis stems from a supply and demand issue. To move ahead, we need all levels government, private sector developers and non-profits to work together to increase supply of all types and sizes of housing.


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