Canadian government allocates $1.5bn to co‑op housing scheme

Co-designed with sector apex CHF Canada, it is the country’s largest investment in building new co-op housing in 30 years

Canada’s federal government launched its new Co‑operative Housing Development Program on 6 June to make housing more affordable by supporting a new generation of co-op housing. 

Co-designed with the Co-operative Housing Federation of Canada (CHF) and other leaders in the co-op sector, the programme is the largest investment in building new co-op housing in the last 30 years. It consists of CA$500m in contributions and CA$1bn in loans to build new co-ops and grow existing ones. 

“By focusing on people over profits, co-operative housing is able to keep housing affordable for the long term,” said housing minister Sean Fraser. “This is the largest investment in co-op housing in 30 years. It will help build thousands of new homes and create a new generation of co-operative housing across Canada.”

Funding applications will open on 15 July and close on 15 September, with additional intake opportunities to be announced later.

“Our government’s plan to build nearly four million new homes is the most ambitious housing plan in Canadian history,” said Chrystia Freeland, deputy prime minister and minister of finance. “We’re doing this to ensure every generation, especially millennials and gen Z, can find an affordable place to call home. Today’s investment to build more co-op housing – the largest investment in co-ops in three decades—will help us build more of the homes Canadians need.”

Related: Plans announced for biggest co-op housing development in Ontario, Canada

The programme will be administered by Canada Mortgage Housing Corporation, which will prioritise projects for funding if they focus on providing homes for those in need of support, including Indigenous groups, women and children, and disabled persons.

The federal government runs two other schemes benefiting co-ops: the $618.2m Federal Community Housing Initiative, which provides rental assistance to low-income households and transitional funding to housing providers; and the $4.8bn Canada Housing Benefit, co-developed and cost-matched by provinces and territories, which provides direct financial support to Canadians who are experience housing need.

“The launch of the new Co-operative Housing Development Program is a turning point,” said Tim Ross, executive director of CHF Canada. “The programme acknowledges the unique value of co-operative housing in providing affordable, secure homes, and fostering strong and inclusive communities. The program will kick-start the construction of the next generation of co-op housing, which is part of how we will solve the housing crisis. The co-op housing sector is once again ready to build.”

CHF, which represents 2,200 housing co-operatives, says it is committed to ensuring the programme’s success using its experience, members and strong linkages to regional co-operative housing federations. 

“Dedicated investment in co-operative housing acknowledges its unique value in providing not only affordable homes but also in nurturing strong communities where people of different incomes and backgrounds are welcomed,” said Cassia Kantrow, CHF Canada’s board president.

“Having a secure home in a supportive community made all the difference for me when I was a young single parent. Co-operative housing changes lives, and I am overjoyed that more people will be able to have what I had, thanks to the Co-operative Housing Development Program.”

Co-op housing providers can apply for funding starting on July 15, 2024, and the first intake round will remain open until September 15, 2024. Additional intake opportunities will be announced at a later date. Co-ops wishing to prepare an application and to receive updates can visit the Co-operative Housing Development webpage.