May 19, 2016
New $32.5-Million Fund for Community Housing Renovations
Created in partnership with the Chantier de l’économie sociale Trust, Fonds immobilier de solidarité FTQ, SSQ Financial Group and the McConnell Foundation
In order to enable housing coops and housing nonprofits to carry out major renovations without raising rent, the Chantier de l’économie sociale Trust and its partners, the Fonds immobilier de solidarité FTQ, SSQ Financial Group and the J.W. McConnell Family Foundation are creating a $32.5-million patient capital investment fund called the Fonds d’aide à la rénovation de l’habitation communautaire (FondsARHC).
From left to right : Mario Baribeault (SSQ Financial Group), Jean-François Chalifoux (SSQ Financial Group), Erica Barbosa (McConnell Foundation), Normand Bélanger (Fonds immobilier de solidarité FTQ), Jacques Charest (Fiducie du Chantier de l’économie sociale)
In Québec, 32,000 dwellings managed by housing coops and nonprofits were built in the 1980s through a program that provided mortgages guaranteed by the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). The goal of this program was to provide low- and modest-income households and special needs clienteles with safe, quality housing. Thirty years later, most of these dwellings are in need of major repairs or updates: roofs, windows, building envelopes, kitchens and bathrooms. As well, some systems, for example, heating, have reached the end of their useful lives and must be replaced.
“Given that a second mortgage would likely result in a sharp hike in rent that many tenants would be unable to afford, we had to find another way. We therefore approached the Fonds immobilier, SSQ Financial Group and the McConnell Foundation, which together created this $32.5-million investment fund. Our plan is to renovate 1,500 units over the next three years, at a cost of $20,000 to $25,000 each,” said Jacques Charest, general manager of the Chantier de l’économie sociale Trust.
“We invest in real estate all across Québec and in all sectors, including social, community and affordable housing. Building affordable rental housing fuels job creation and generates a reasonable return for shareholders of the Fonds de solidarité FTQ, but most importantly, it is a tangible way to make a difference in the lives of vulnerable people and families. Our decision to invest $21 million in this new fund is perfectly in line with our mission. Also, by systematizing the work and the way the renovations are carried out, we are helping revitalize properties as well as prevent black market work,” said in turn Normand Bélanger, president and CEO of the Fonds immobilier de solidarité FTQ.
“SSQ Financial Group wanted to participate in this fund, which seeks to preserve the quality of life of people living in social and community housing. Our $10.5-million investment in the social economy will make a real difference,” added Jean-François Chalifoux, CEO of SSQ Financial Group. “Our mutualist values, which place people and social development at the heart of our actions, combined with our expertise in real estate financing, make us the ideal partner to implement this innovative way of funding the renovation of social and community housing wherever it is needed in Québec.”
“A part of the Foundation’s mission is to make the social economy more resilient,” said Stephen Huddart, president and CEO of the McConnell Foundation. “We want to see the social economy continue to meet the community’s needs in Québec and all across Canada; our investments in the FondsARHC clearly illustrate our desire to ensure affordable, quality housing by using an innovative, sustainable model. This is a prime example of an impact investment, a type of funding that has been a part of our portfolio since 2007.”
Instead of dipping into their reserves, which are often insufficient to cover the cost of the work, collective housing owners will now be able to turn to FondsARHC for a loan. The interest rates will be competitive and the terms and conditions will be favourable to co-ops in that they will be able to make payments annually based on their capacity and in that the amounts will not represent more than 75% of their generated surplus.
The CMHC will be responsible for signing off on the work so that the necessary permits can be obtained. Housing coops and nonprofits will be able to count on the expertise of the Groupes de ressources techniques (GRT) for the management of the renovation projects.
About SSQ Financial Group
With $11 billion in assets under management, SSQ Financial Group is a prominent mutualist diversified financial institution in Canada. The Group serves over 3 million customers and employs 2,000 individuals. SSQ Financial Group is recognized for its leadership in the group insurance industry and excellence and expertise in the investment sector. SSQ Financial Group has also made its mark through sustained growth in the general insurance and individual insurance markets.
About the Chantier de l’économie sociale Trust
Created by the Chantier de l’économie sociale and its partners to support social economy enterprises, the Chantier de l’économie sociale Trust is an investment fund offering patient capital tailored to the needs and missions of these enterpises. The Trust has authorized over $59 million in loans to date, generating investments of over $335 million but more importantly, consolidating and creating upwards of 2,765 jobs and 392 subsidized positions.
About the Fonds immobilier de solidarité FTQ
Created in 1991, the Fonds immobilier de solidarité FTQ promotes economic growth and employment in Québec by strategically investing in profitable and socially responsible real estate projects in partnership with other industry leaders. The Fonds immobilier backs residential, office, commercial, institutional and industrial projects of all sizes across Québec. At December 31, 2015, the Fonds immobilier had 37 projects in progress, valued at $1.9 billion, along with 41 properties under management, 18 million square feet of land and $59 million invested in affordable, social and community housing. The Fonds immobilier is a member of the Canada Green Building Council.
About the J.W. McConnell Family Foundation
Established in 1937, the J.W. McConnell Family Foundation engages Canadians in building a more innovative, inclusive, sustainable, and resilient society. The Foundation’s purpose is to enhance Canada’s ability to address complex social, environmental and economic challenges. From an endowment of $635 million, the Foundation disburses 4% annually in grants. Its policy objective is to direct 10% of the endowment to impact investments (currently at 5%). The Foundation helped establish and works closely with Canada’s core social innovation and social finance infrastructure through such initiatives as the Social Innovation Generation and the MaRS Centre for Impact Investing (Toronto).