National Housing Co-Investment: Capital for affordable, energy-efficient and accessible housing

August 4, 2023
The Central Urban Métis Federation Inc. Round Prairie Elders' Lodge

With the latest round of CMHC’s Rapid Housing Initiative closed, community-minded organizations building housing are looking for other opportunities for funding.

Nick Sackville, VP Community Development, says one place for organizations to look is the CMHC’s National Housing Co-Investment Fund (NHCF).

“The NHCF encourages collaboration between stakeholders, providing capital to projects that have support from multiple levels of government,” he says.

The NHCF is for new affordable housing, as well as the renovation and repair of existing affordable and community housing.

Affordable, energy-efficient, accessible housing prioritized

The National Housing Co-Investment Fund's New Construction Stream supports a wide range of projects, such as community and affordable housing, mixed-use market/affordable rental developments, conversions from non-residential to affordable multi-residential spaces, shelters, and transitional/supportive housing. 

Projects must have a minimum of five units/beds and be primarily residential, and need to prove financial viability while being affordable, energy efficient and accessible. 

Applications will be prioritized and scored based on alignment with National Housing Strategy (NHS) goals, provincial and territorial input, proximity to transit and amenities, collaboration/partnerships, social inclusion, and support for federal priority groups. 

A portion of the funding is also earmarked for projects that support women and children fleeing violence, Indigenous and northern communities, and for organizations that are Black-led.

The more aligned with these requirements and priorities your project is, the higher its score will be during the evaluation process.

Loans for new construction available

The fund is available for community housing providers, municipalities, provinces and territories, Indigenous governments and organizations, as well as the private sector. 

While the NHCF has reached its budget limit for non-repayable contributions (a top-up to close funding gaps), there are still long-term, low-interest loans available for new builds — and eligible organizations can develop projects that may qualify for a forgivable or non-repayable loan. 

CMHC specialists will guide eligible organizations through the application process, and the team at Big Block can provide support, too, sharing our extensive knowledge and experience in helping groups secure this type of funding.

An excellent credit and repayment history is required for organizations accessing the NHCF, which assesses applications based on financial viability, affordability, energy efficiency, accessibility, socio-economic outcomes to be achieved, local community need, and available funding. Applications that show project readiness to begin construction within 6 months also score higher on the priority list.

There is a substantial amount of funding available, to the tune of $5.19 billion available through low-cost repayable loans and $2.26 billion through forgivable loans. Successful applicants can expect to receive at least $1,000,000 at minimum under the NHCF’s new construction stream.

The loan-to-cost ratio ranges from up to 95% for residential space to up to 75% for non-residential space. For the private sector, the loan-to-cost ratio is 75% for residential space. 

Repayable loans offer a 10-year term with a fixed interest rate, renewable for another 10 years, and up to a 50-year amortization for monthly payments. Interest-only payments are required once the loan is fully advanced. 

Bonus: forgivable loans for high performance projects 

As a cost-offsetting incentive for new construction, a portion of a NHCF repayable loan may become forgivable under specific circumstances, such as for higher performing projects that exceed minimum requirements for affordability, environmental efficiency, and accessibility, or when additional funding is needed to achieve break-even cash flow.

Forgivable loans are offered as a percentage of total project costs, and are determined by an Incentive Percentage Score. Scoring high for an affordable, energy efficient and/or accessible project maximizes the portion of eligible incentive funding, and may increase the forgivable loan amount by as much as 5 to 10%. The maximum forgivable loan varies from up to 40% of total eligible costs for non-profits, co-ops, and Indigenous groups; to 15% for private sector applicants; or $25,000 per unit, whichever amount is lesser. 

9 development considerations before applying to the NHCF

Applicants who are looking to achieve approval with a high project prioritization score must prepare to make development considerations above and beyond financial viability for the property. You can use this checklist as a starting point:

If you’re looking into the NHCF and other government funding programs for a new multi-unit construction project in the Prairie Provinces, an experienced development partner like Big Block can help expand capacity, unlock funding, and improve project outcomes.

Whether your organization has successfully developed new construction projects in the past, or this is your first, having Big Block on board from the funding application stage optimizes the creation of a strong project concept, timeline, and budget to support your application to CMHC and other government funding partners. Then, once funding is approved, our integrated design-build process will be at the ready to ensure your project advances through the design and construction stage as planned.

Reach out to our community development team today at to learn more about how our pre-development services for shovel readiness can support your discussions with CMHC and other project partners, enhance your funding application, and get your project built. 

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