Sustainable Affordable Housing Program Available from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities

Written by Paige Waldock

July 23, 2020

The Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) has released a new funding and financing program through their Green Municipal Fund (GMF). It is called the Sustainable Affordable Housing (SAH) program and is intended to help affordable housing projects achieve better energy performance. The program is aimed at retrofits and new-build projects with funding opportunities for every stage of the project.

Beyond being environmentally responsible, there are many benefits for improving the energy performance of a building, especially for affordable housing landlords. A reduction in energy usage can pass on savings on utility bills to tenants and reduce the operating budget for non-profit housing providers. The upfront costs associated with creating a more energy efficient building will save money over the lifetime of the project. The SAH program will help alleviate the burden of some of these upfront costs.

The fund is divided into five different streams:

  1. Planning,
  2. Studies,
  3. Pilot projects,
  4. Capital projects: new builds, and
  5. Capital projects: retrofits.

The table below summarizes the available grants by each of these five streams. The planning, study, and pilot project streams offer non-repayable grants while the two capital project streams offer funding through a grant and financing loan mix.

To be eligible for funding, applicants must be a Canadian municipal government, a municipally owned corporation (such as Ottawa Community Housing), or a non-profit affordable housing provider (such as CCOC). The project must offer at least 30% of the rents at 80% or less of the median market rent of the area. See the table below for a breakdown of the Median Market Rents in Ottawa.  Additionally, new build projects are expected to design their building to be net-zero ready while retrofits need to achieve at least a 25% energy reduction from their current energy usage.

Apartment Size Median Market Rent (MMR) 20% MMR
Studio $916 $732
1-Bedroom $1,109 $887
2-Bedroom $1,300 $1,040
3-Bedroom $1,524 $1,219


FCM has streamlined the application process with a simple initial proposal that is required for all streams except planning. The proposal is intended to identify promising projects to move forward through the full application process. If the project has already applied to, or been awarded, funding and financing through CMHC’s Co-Investment Fund, the FCM will work with the applicant to avoid a duplication of efforts. The FCM has developed this fund to easily compliment the Co-Investment Fund by using similar project criteria and allowing the grants to be stacked. See the image below for more details on the review process. The program is continuously open to applications, but has an annual budget that limits the number of projects that can be funded until April 1st of the following year.

With one exception, all eligible costs must be incurred after the application submittal date in order to be covered by any awarded funding.  Costs paid to hire consultants to aid in the preparation of the SAH applications are included in the list of eligible project costs, but must be incurred within 90 days prior to the date the application was submitted.

Cahdco has years of experience managing and preparing funding applications. Non-profits that have projects that would benefit from funding through the SAH program can reach out to Cahdco if they are looking for assistance.

For more information about the fund and how to apply, find the FCM’s application guide here.

Paige Waldock

Development Project Coordinator

July 23, 2020