In Cahdco’s ongoing effort to develop more affordable housing alternatives, partnerships have emerged as a driving force of change. In our recent event, we partnered with The Alliance to End Homelessness Ottawa, Ottawa Community Land Trust, and Tapestry Community Capital, to discuss the increasing important field of community finance and how it can impact the affordable housing sector.
On the morning of Feb 7, 2024, Satyameet Singh, Program Manager at Tapestry Community Capital and Mike Bulthuis, Executive Director of the Ottawa Community Land Trust joined moderator Paige Waldock, Project Manager at Cahdco to answer questions on the topic.
The discussion began with an introduction to the field of community financing, a practice that invites community participation, trust, and ownership. Singh highlighted the history of Tapestry Community Capital (now forth referred to as Tapestry) and the impact that community financing, specifically bonds, had on the success of different projects. For those unfamiliar, community bonds are usually a set of multi-tired investment products that allow for issuers (non-profit organizations) to raise capital for projects. Organizations such as WindShare serve as an example of how community bonds enable previously unfeasible ideas.
Diving into deeper detail, Singh shared the general process that Tapestry follows when delivering a project. It is also important to consider that community bonds often require an issuance in excess of $500,000. Once feasibility is completed and the project is greenlit, the organization and Tapestry decide on how to structure the investment products. This often includes a mix of timelines, interest rates, and payment structures. Once the capital is raised, Tapestry offers a host of management services including tax slips, interest payments, and other continuous responsibilities. Timelines for this process are highly dependant on capital requirements and the number of investments.
The conversation later led to discussion of real examples. Bulthuis shared the progress that his organization, Ottawa Community Land Trust, has made toward the launch of their Housing Forever Bonds which will support the acquisition of properties that will be converted to non-profit affordable housing. While community bonds will not cover the entire capital stack, a substantial and necessary amount is to be raised.
In closing, the two panelists were asked if they had any policy recommendations that would further improve the delivery of community bonds. Singh pointed out the variability of regulatory requirements between provinces and suggested a more standardized approach would reduce complexity and improve efficiency. It was also suggested that greater tax incentives could make community bonds a more attractive investment for a broad set of investors.
Overall, the discussion provided an excellent introduction and explanation of how community bonds can be utilized in the wider affordable housing community. We are hugely grateful for everyone’s support and attendance of this event. If you would like to read more about community bonds read our previous blog here.
If you’re in Ottawa and passionate about affordable housing, Cahdco will be hosting similar events every month along with the Ottawa CLT and the Alliance to End Homelessness Ottawa. Check out our events page for more.