The rental market is an important housing option for approximately 30 per cent of Canadians including middle class families, young adults, seniors and new immigrants to Canada.
Currently, around 1.7 million Canadian families do not have a home that meets their basic needs and that they can afford. Renting can be a good option, but only if there are units available in the right places and price ranges.
By investing in the construction of more than 14,000 new rental housing units, we are taking action to increase the supply of new rental developments and providing housing options to improve the lives of hard working Canadians. It will allow more middle-class Canadians to spend more time with their children by living closer to public transit, schools and services.
New rental supply
The Rental Construction Financing initiative — part of the federal government’s $40-billion National Housing Strategy (NHS) — provides $3.75 billion in low-cost loans to support the construction of new rental housing, relieving pressure in rental markets that are experiencing low vacancy rates and high rents.
By supporting construction and early operations with low-cost loans, the initiative will help expand the number of housing developers, non-profit organizations and municipalities able to access financing for rental housing projects. The focus is on supporting sustainable rental apartment projects in areas where there is a need for additional rental supply, providing more housing options for Canadians.
To prioritize standard apartment projects that meet or exceed certain requirements for financial viability, affordability, energy efficiency and accessibility, and those that support vibrant, socially inclusive neighbourhoods, are close to public transit, and are developed through partnerships or collaboration. Projects that are closer to breaking ground are also more likely to be prioritized.
“We are very proud to have had our project selected to participate in the CMHC Rental Construction Finance initiative. This innovative new funding will allow us to focus more attention on building affordable, super energy efficient housing in our markets” said Peter Polley, Founder and President of Polycorp Properties Inc. from Wolfville, NS.
“The RCFi was instrumental in allowing us to achieve our guiding principle for this development—to establish a living environment that addresses rent affordability, accessibility, inclusiveness and community-building by providing an area that promotes a comfortable and sustainable lifestyle” said Keith Merkel, President of EdgeCorp Developments from Winnipeg, MB.
“We are very excited to be a part of the Rental Construction Financing initiative program which promotes innovative and socially responsible housing options. The benefits of this program go beyond the 67-units that we are building here today. It gives flexibility to our team to invest in future projects that will provide even more housing availability in our community” said Brian Burr, CFO, Richlane Builders from Chiliwack, BC
Are you eligible?
To be eligible, projects must include at least 5 rental units, respond to a demonstrable need for rental supply, and have zoning in place, a site plan in process and a building permit available. Every project must meet the minimum eligibility requirement and will be prioritized based on exceeding RCFi’s criteria on viability, affordability, accessibility and energy efficiency.
Each one is expected to achieve at least a 15 per cent decrease in energy intensity and greenhouse gas emissions modelled against the 2015 national codes (NECB or NBC). A minimum of 10 per cent of rental units in each project must meet or exceed the local accessibility standards, as well as have barrier-free common areas.
A minimum of 20 per cent of units must have rents at or below 30 per cent of the median household income for that area. The proponent must show that the total residential rental income of the building is 10 per cent below what it could potentially earn at market rates (via an accredited appraisal), and the affordable rents have to be maintained for a minimum of 10 years.
Alternatively, the affordability requirement may be met if the proposal has been approved under another government’s housing program/initiative that provides support for the development of affordable rental housing such as capital grants, municipal concessions, etc. Affordability must be maintained for a minimum of 10 years.
Help make a difference
Through CMHC, the Government of Canada is helping create a supply of rental housing where there is a demonstrated need for additional units by providing low-cost loans during the earliest phases of development including construction, lease-up and the early stages of property operations.
The RCFi loans offer low-cost, 10-year fixed rate terms, up to 50-year amortizations and flexibilities in its underwriting requirements. In addition, the approval of each loan includes a CMHC mortgage loan insurance coverage which will lower the cost of borrower over the life of the project.
A stable supply of rental housing is critical to ensure that more Canadians have access to housing that meet their needs. There is still time and money to submit an application for the construction of new affordable rental housing. Learn more about the RCFi, its eligibility requirements and how to apply online at cmhc.ca/financinginitiative. Loan commitments are available through March 2021.