Affordable from the ground up: How the NAHC is building for all

August 3, 2020

Stacie Beever with the National Affordable Housing Corporation wants every Canadian to have access to affordable housing. For years, the NAHC’s main focus was on home ownership, but that goal has shifted to more of a focus on rentals.

“If the rental market is left to dwindle and no new developments are taken on, vacancy rates continue to fall while the cost to rent skyrockets,” said Beever, who is the chief operation officer for the NAHC.

That’s why the NAHC takes on building new affordable rental units like Willowview Heights — one of their most recent partnerships. 

The National Affordable Housing Corporation develops housing projects from the ground up, beginning with the conceptual stages of arranging financing, partnering with government through available affordable housing support programs when possible, and planning all the way through to hiring a builder. Once built, the NAHC then oversees leasing and managing the property into the future. 

“Rentals have always been an important part of the housing market and this is becoming more important recently with more people struggling with affordability and economic uncertainties,” Beever said. 

“Rentals, especially those that can accommodate a growing family, can be very helpful in the housing market when a family isn’t quite ready to move onto home ownership or they’re new to the community and they don’t know what area they want to settle down in.”

Mixed-market affordable

Willowview Heights is a mixed-market affordable model, where market-priced rental units offset the cost of a few very affordable rentals for people with affordability and housing challenges.

“For the Willowview Heights case, we are dedicating a few affordable units to house persons with intellectual disabilities,” Beever said. 

The NAHC’s mission is not just about affordability, either — it’s also about offering people convenient and safe housing.

“Putting a family in an area where there is no grocery and no schools is not actually helping them; families should not be forced to sacrifice convenient access to amenities for the sake of their budget,” she said. 

“We firmly believe affordable housing belongs in all neighbourhoods and that includes new subdivisions. By no means should a new subdivision be restricted only to those who can afford to access it. They have convenience, schools, parks, and any of the things families and households of varying incomes want and need to to be around.”

Testing Net Zero

The Willowview Heights project also includes a Net Zero Ready building, which is a new challenge for the NAHC.

Building to Net Zero standards has great possibilities for making housing more affordable but it costs more up front and many of the processes and technologies are new, especially when it comes to multi-unit residential buildings.

“Applying this to all 72 units would have been financially unfeasible and the unknowns still make it potentially quite scary from an owner’s perspective,” Beever said. “So we need to test it before we do something bigger."

National Affordable Housing Corporation is a partner on the Willowview Heights project. We're so grateful for all the amazing partners who are helping to make this first-of-its-kind project a success.

Read more about Willowview Heights:

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