Written by Alya Alterkawi
December 2, 2021
I attended the 3 day Kingston Housing Forum in October 2021, and on day 2 of the Forum, we heard a very insightful presentation from Ken Foulds, the Principal at Re/fact Consulting based in Ottawa. Ken has worked on many housing plans with housing groups and municipalities in the area, and he also works to promote capacity building in the non-profit sector. I will be summarizing some of the high-level ideas that Ken provided in his presentation about affordable community housing, the development process, the key ingredients to make a project happen, financial sustainability, and the resources that are available for project development.
Why create more affordable housing?
The existing need for affordable housing comes as no surprise. Contributing factors to this include the sustained waiting lists and minimal unit turnover in community housing, decreasing rental vacancy rates, household incomes not being able to keep up with rising housing costs, and increased people in vulnerable financial situations. The housing supply itself is a huge contributing factor, as there are issues such as lack of new rentals being built, and increasing market rents because of increased costs of labour and materials. Building affordable rentals isn’t as profitable to developers, so what little increase we are seeing in rental activity is mostly in the high-end developments with increasing rent costs.
The development process is made up of four stages. Similarly seen in Graeme’s Affordable Housing 101 presentation, these four stages could be named slightly differently, but they are essentially the same. The typical timeline of each step is 18 To 36 months in the best-case scenario. Once the initial project idea is settled, these are the following points that are typically followed:
There are three financial elements, the first being the capital budget, where expenses for acquiring property, soft costs and hard costs can be covered by grants, equity and funding sources. Secondly is the operating budget, which consists of expenses such as mortgages, maintenance fees, taxes, utilities, staff costs, etc. Revenues consist of rent and any other sources of income collected from the project. The third piece is financing, and this is where additional money is needed to help push the project forward. The more money is borrowed to balance out the capital budget, the more the debt service costs increase in the operating budget. For affordable housing projects, rents cannot be raised too much in order to generate revenue, so a balance needs to be found between the amount that needs to be borrowed to allow the project to move forward, and how much debt service that can be paid. In this case it would be beneficial to begin with the estimated operating budget and use that to figure out what revenues are actually possible, and from there it would be easier to determine what an affordable mortgage for the project would look like. Then, the different financing options can be considered, in relation to the costs of the project. The relationship between these three financial elements is the key part of determining the feasibility of a project and whether it can actually work.
There are several funding resources that can be obtained for a project, from federal, provincial, local, or non-governmental sources.
Federal Government Tools
National Housing Strategy (NHS):
And other initiatives, such as:
Provincial Government Tools
Co-funded programs under the National Housing Strategy:
Local/Regional Government Tools
December 2, 2021