Cahdco’s Affordable Housing Development Toolbox

Learn about Cahdco's submission to the Housing Supply Challenge and how you can get involved

Written by Lauren White

June 20, 2022

As you may have seen in our previous blog post, Cahdco applied to Round 2: Getting Started of the Housing Supply Challenge (HSC) in August 2021. The HSC is a program led by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) as part of the Federal Government’s National Housing Strategy. The HSC invites citizens, stakeholders, and experts to propose solutions to the barriers to new housing supply. There are 6 rounds in the challenge with a total of $300 million in funding to be distributed over 5 years.

In November 2021, Cahdco along with 28 other applicants, was shortlisted for the Getting Started Round. In this round, applicants were asked to present locally relevant solutions that improve the pre-development process for affordable housing. Since November, Cahdco has been co-designing our solution to pre-development barriers and prototyping our idea to create more affordable housing. Cahdco’s solution is the Affordable Housing Development Toolbox. The Toolbox is a two-tiered program to coach and mentor housing organizations to increase their development capacity and encourage housing providers to create their own development corporation.

Cahdco spent the last 8 months prototyping our solution and working on the third and final application for incubation funding. If successful, Cahdco will receive funding to implement our solution from September 2022 to April 2024.

Rooted in Cahdco History

Cahdco’s idea is to increase development capacity and create more affordable housing development corporations across Canada. Supporting sector capacity is why Cahdco was originally created. Cahdco is the development corporation of Centretown Citizens Ottawa Corporation (CCOC). CCOC is Ottawa’s largest private non-profit affordable housing landlord. They own and manage more than 50 properties, providing 1,700 affordable units to residents in Ottawa. In 1996, following the provincial government’s withdrawal from affordable housing, CCOC created Cahdco to support other non-profits, co-ops and charities creating affordable housing in the Ottawa area. Today, more than 20 years after Cahdco was established, limited government funding for affordable housing projects has returned through programs such as the HSC, and Cahdco is considered a role model for affordable housing development. The Toolbox is Cahdco’s way of sharing our knowledge and expertise with groups across the country looking to develop more affordable housing.

The Cahdco Team

The Toolbox

The Affordable Housing Development Toolbox is a series of learning, coaching, and mentorship modules to increase the amount of affordable housing development corporations across Canada and their capacity to create affordable housing. The Toolbox will teach participating housing organizations about business and capacity planning, internal finance, project risk assessment, land acquisition, developing funding and financing, and more. The Toolbox contains 20 learning and capacity building modules that will be taught through an intensive 10-month program.

Cahdco’s initial recruitment of housing organizations to participate in the Toolbox yielded far more interest than originally intended. Cahdco aimed to recruit between 5 and 10 housing organizations. Between November 2021 and May 2022, Cahdco had 60+ organizations express interest, had one-on-one discussions with 50+ groups, and had 30+ organizations attend six people-centered engagement sessions to co-design the Toolbox. Cahdco also recruited 14 affordable housing developers to be knowledge experts and mentors along with Cahdco. These organizations will assist with the delivery of the Toolbox and offer one-on-one mentorship to participants.

Cahdco ran people-centered engagement sessions to co-design the best Toolbox for the participants. During these sessions, Cahdco received feedback from participants and mentors about what should be taught during the learning and capacity building modules. Based on feedback, Cahdco adjusted its initial program of offering one mentorship program to offer two separate programs: the Blueprint program and the Foundations program. Cahdco will continue to use feedback to ensure that the Toolbox is suited to the participants throughout the implementation phase.

Blueprint Program

The Blueprint program is intended for organizations that are early in the development process and primarily interested in learning and gaining knowledge of development activities. Blueprint participants are expected to commit approximately 5 hours per month for 3-4 months. Following completion of the Toolbox, Blueprint participants can potentially graduate to the Foundations program depending on their organizations in-house capacity and experience.

Foundations Program

The Foundations program is for organizations that have experience with development and are interested in building upon these skills to increase their in-house capacity and sell development services to others. Foundations participants are expected to commit approximately 15 hours per month for 10 months. Each participant will be paired with a mentor organization. Mentors will dedicate one-on-one time with participants to answer development-specific questions that might require more time and energy beyond the program’s teaching. A goal of the Foundations program is for participants to begin development activities and create affordable housing units. Participants of the Foundations program can graduate to become mentors or knowledge experts in the following years.

Cahdco’s goal is to continue the Toolbox initiative indefinitely, past the CMHC Housing Supply Challenge timeline. During the HSC timeline, of September 2022 to April 2024, Cahdco will offer two iterations of the Foundations program and four iterations of the Blueprint program.

How you can get involved

Although Cahdco is waiting to hear back about implementation funding, we are still encouraging interested housing organizations to reach out! If you want to learn more about the Toolbox and how you can get involved in either the Blueprint or Foundations program, or as a mentor, please contact We hope to hear from you soon!

Lauren White

Development Intern

June 20, 2022