Giving affordable housing a fighting chance.

For sale signs and eviction notices are becoming a common sight in every major city in Canada. But so are the signs of neighborhoods fighting back. 

To prevent long-time tenants from being priced out of their communities, land trusts across the country are monitoring at-risk rental properties as they come up for sale.  

“Our aim is to preserve affordability by acquiring at-risk rental homes and placing them under community ownership,” explains Mike Bulthuis, Executive Director of Ottawa Community Land Trust (OCLT)

The problem? Buying a building isn’t easy, particularly for land trusts and non-profits.   

“Unlike private developers, land trusts need to secure government funding or raise money from investors before they have a fighting chance in a hot real estate market,” says Chloe Wong, Account Manager at Vancity Community Investment Bank (VCIB) - a Vancity subsidary based in Toronto.  

A first-of-its-kind program.  

“Noticing the hurdles land trusts go through, we thought – what role could a bank play in eliminating the unique challenges land trusts face to enable affordable housing acquisitions?” says Chloe.  

In partnership with the Parkdale Neighbourhood Land Trust (PNLT), VCIB’s real estate team came up with an ingenious solution: the Preserve and Protect Guarantee Program, a unique impact investment program that would reduce costs, timelines, and other barriers for land trusts to access capital, including the amount that would typically be required as equity to secure bank financing.  

VCIB’s program worked just as intended. In April 2021, tenants and community members celebrated PNLT’s acquisition of a 36-unit, low rent, at-risk apartment building (pictured below).

For Joshua, Executive Director of PNLT, having a supportive financing partner made all the difference.

“Even before we had a project, VCIB was there,” said Joshua. “The team was always available to problem solve and help us understand the challenges and opportunities, and when Maynard came up for sale, we were ready.”

And their achievements continue to build. PNLT’s charitable arm, the Neighbourhood Land Trust, has secured a $2.6 million loan from VCIB to purchase 81 Toronto properties and preserve 153 affordable homes.

Supporting land trusts across the country.

With support from VCIB’s Preserveand Protect Guarantee Program, Ottawa Community Land Trust (OCLT) recently announced the success of its first property purchase – a six-unit rental building on Kirkwood Avenue (picured below).

“We were very grateful for VCIB’s willingness to work with us when things were new and when hiccups came up,” says Mike. “The impression that I had of VCIB coming into this was that it’s a very values-driven financial institution — that comes through in their work.”

Looking towards the future, VCIB is working to replicate and scale this financing model to support other land trusts across the country.


From the Vancity Affordable Housing Accelerator Fund to VCIB’s financing for purpose-driven real estate, Vancity Group is working to make safe, secure, and affordable housing a reality in Canada.  


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