Toronto to get $203M, Vancouver and Montreal to split about $108M more under city-specific …

Mayor Doug McCallum said Surrey’s $16-million will be used to build temporary housing on city land and that he hopes construction can start within …

Part of downtown Toronto is seen in an undated file photo.

Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail

Fifteen Canadian cities will share $500-million in federal money as part of a plan to quickly build 3,000 new units of affordable housing across the country.

The Rapid Housing Initiative will dedicate half of its $1-billion in total spending to the 15 cities, which are among Canada’s largest, with Toronto receiving the most, at $203.3-million, followed by $56.8-million for Montreal and $51.6-million for Vancouver.

Municipal leaders welcomed the news, but opposition party critics and others cautioned that 3,000 new units falls well short of addressing homelessness.

Story continues below advertisement

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Families, Children and Social Development Minister Ahmed Hussen made the announcement on Tuesday in Ottawa.

The remaining $500-million will be allotted based on applications from provinces, territories, municipalities, Indigenous governments and organizations and non-profit groups.

The government said the amounts allocated to the cities are based on factors such as the number of people in severe housing need.

The program will focus on building new modular multiunit rentals as well as converting non-residential buildings such as hotels into affordable multiresidential homes.

Mr. Hussen said the cities should be able to have some of the housing ready within months.

“They will be able to turn that into rapid housing before the winter,” he said. “And I say that because they have already pre-identified properties, existing buildings, that they can quickly convert to housing.”

Vancouver currently has a large number of homeless people camping in Strathcona Park. Mayor Kennedy Stewart said the city will likely pursue the idea of buying hotels, as the fastest approach.

Story continues below advertisement

“If you buy a hotel, you can move people in quickly and put an overdose-prevention site in the building. Then it’s there for decades rather than having parking lots full of tents,” he said in an interview.

Mr. Stewart said more homeless people are on the streets because they don’t want to go into shelters or because pandemic rules in many places prevent them from staying with friends.

Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps said the $13-million the Capital Regional District has been allocated isn’t enough to acquire hotels, and will likely be used to build temporary modular housing, which will take at least nine months.

Mayor Doug McCallum said Surrey’s $16-million will be used to build temporary housing on city land and that he hopes construction can start within 30 days.

The federal announcement provides new details on a pledge made in last month’s Throne Speech and a follow-up announcement that the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. would run the program.

Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson, who chairs the Federation of Canadian Municipalities Big City Mayors’ Caucus, praised the fact that the federal government is sending the money directly to cities, rather than through provincial governments.

Story continues below advertisement

He said Edmonton plans to convert struggling hotels into a mix of short- and longer-term social housing.

“We’ve been talking to two dozen different hoteliers about acquiring hotels that are in distress, that are on sale,” he said. “It’s a buyers’ market right now.”

The plan has also earmarked $31.9-million for Ottawa; $30.4-million for Peel Region; $24.6-million for Calgary; $17.3-million for Edmonton; $12.5-million for Winnipeg; $10.8-million for Hamilton; $8.7-million for Halifax; $7.5-million for London, Ont.; and $7.1-million for Quebec City.

Conservative MP and housing critic Brad Vis said the announcement is a positive start, but called on the government to be more transparent in explaining why nearly 50 per cent of the funding for cities is going to the Greater Toronto Area.

“I support funds going to the GTA, but I’m also very concerned as a British Columbian about the Downtown Eastside and the perpetual problems that we’re facing in this province, too,” he said. He also questioned how rural Canadians can benefit.

Last month, Toronto Mayor John Tory called on Ottawa and the province to support a municipal plan for 3,000 permanent housing units for the homeless in Toronto alone.

Story continues below advertisement

On Tuesday, Mr. Tory called the $203-million “a good start” that will help with efforts to accelerate the construction of supportive housing for the homeless, pointing out that two projects for quick-build “modular housing” are already under way. He said the housing cash indicates the Liberal government is a “good partner” for cities.

“It shows the importance of continued co-operation between all governments to address homelessness,” Mr. Tory said in a statement.

NDP MP and housing critic Jenny Kwan said she found it shocking that the announcement did not include specific funds for the urban Indigenous population. She also said the Liberal government has a poor record of delivering on its pledges to address homelessness.

“The allocation of 3,000 units will not even come close to addressing this homelessness crisis,” she said. “I say again to the minister, to the Prime Minister, it is not good enough.”

David Hulchanski, a community housing and development professor at the University of Toronto, said 3,000 units is a fraction of the 20,000 social-housing units a year that Ottawa subsidized until cuts in the 1990s.

“Here we are eight months into COVID, and five years into the Trudeau government, which is always talking housing, but not a lot is happening,” he said.

Story continues below advertisement

Know what is happening in the halls of power with the day’s top political headlines and commentary as selected by Globe editors (subscribers only). Sign up today.

Agorize Challenge: Design Affordable 3D Printed Houses in Canada

Canada is no exception, while the crisis of affordable housing in Vancouver and Toronto has been widely publicized, other Canadian cities like …

Open innovation platform firm Agorize and Canadian construction company Horizon Legacy have launched a new online challenge for individuals and startups worldwide to submit disruptive solutions in the field of construction. The goal of the Marco Polo 100 Digital Build Challenge is to create sustainable and affordable housing in Canada using new construction technologies and processes, particularly 3D printing. Participating teams will gain expert mentorship, access tools to create a prototype, and win the chance to see their building come to life.

The challenge is completely free, open to teams of one to 10 individuals, and will run from January 2021 through August 2022. It is designed to solve the affordable housing crisis by developing a livable multi-residential building in Southern Ontario, Canada, for CA$100 per square feet using new technologies. For a young family, this means CA$100,000 to construct a 1000 square feet two-bedroom apartment. With cash prizes ranging from CA$15,000 to CA$200,000, ongoing royalties, and the ultimate prize of CA$10M investment to construct a building, the participating teams will attempt to reduce construction costs and timelines by utilizing cutting edge new technologies and processes while making a building that appeals to local audiences.

Up until now, 10 teams have registered but applications are open until January 12, 2021, when 20 successful applicant teams will be chosen to start working with Horizon Legacy in Canada. They will develop and evaluate their plans to construct a futuristic building. The teams are expected to build a design to 30% completion, provide costs, schedules, construction work plans, and technology or process innovation for the building. Then judges will select the 10 best submissions to move to the following stage of the challenge.

Next, the best teams will have the opportunity to present their plans and only five teams will be awarded the chance to build a “Small Building” intended to showcase the innovative technology process and scalability. During this stage, the finalists will have an entire year to work with the sponsor firm and a local architect and engineer to complete their designs, engineering and submit a building permit application. Finally, in August 2022, one team will be selected to partner with Horizon to construct a livable “Big Building.”

Teams will compete in several tracks, including costs, originality, constructability, time, and teamwork. During the annual competition, the teams will receive mentorship and training. Individuals participating will learn about specifications, submissions, building permits, and other applicable requirements and regulations. The winning team will receive several prizes, including up to CA$10 million investment and CA$200,000 cash prize; royalties of CA$1.86 per square feet, and an intellectual property maintenance fee of $250,000. The five teams selected during the third stage of the competition will also receive prices, including a stipend for travel to Toronto, Canada; up to CA$140,000 in investment and CA$15,000 in cash; royalties of CA$1.39 per square feet, and an intellectual property maintenance fee of CA$65,000.

The challenge aims to find passionate people around the world with innovative solutions, while Horizon Legacy will provide them the land, technical expertise, and funding to actualize and build the chosen concepts. At the end of the journey, the company expects to have several completed buildings that are operational, and places people can call home.

“Construction is an industry that has made relatively little progress in how it organizes its business. We are still using century old technologies and processes,” said the president and CEO of Horizon Legacy, Anthony Zwig, in a LinkedIn article published by the company’s Vice President of Development, Nhung Nguyen. “This challenge is intended to revolutionize the industry, by taking aim at lowering the costs and time required for construction of small and large multi-residential buildings by leveraging technology and innovation.”

Most of today’s successful cities have a housing shortage. For example, a recent study by FreddieMac disclosed that in the United States, at least 2.5 million additional housing units will be needed to make up for the housing shortage. Hosting a similar crisis, the European Union claimed in 2020 that although there are more than 220 million households, an alarming number of 82 million Europeans are overburdened by housing costs, many even at the risk of eviction. Canada is no exception, while the crisis of affordable housing in Vancouver and Toronto has been widely publicized, other Canadian cities like Montreal are facing similar pressures. In 2015, the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation even reported that growth in demand for housing was outpacing construction of new housing units.

3D Printed Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU). Image Courtesy of Mighty Buildings

According to Horizon Legacy, the building and construction industry faces several key challenges resulting in a shortage of affordable housing for the modern family. Yet they hope that relying on technology, automation, and innovation in construction processes will lead to reduced costs and timelines for construction; improve efficiency and productivity, and attract younger people to the field of construction and create new types of jobs. In the past, companies leveraging 3D printing technology have proven able to construct sustainable and affordable buildings. As shown by businesses like Mighty Buildings capable of constructing an entire house, or dozens of projects in Dubai planning to 3D print buildings, including entire skyscrapers. There have even been several proposals to construct sustainable space exploration habitats using additive manufacturing. The technology has the right potential to reduce costs, delays, and risks, that tend to make housing so expensive.

“This is an exciting future. New types of jobs will be created for construction engineers and technicians,” indicated Nguyen. “We are bringing together different disciplines: computer engineering, architecture, and construction. The achievement of a $100/sq ft building can be a game changer for the construction industry and impact the future of everyone who needs a place to live. We can’t predict all the twists and turns ahead but we do know it will be fun and exciting to watch.”

For more information on the challenge, including judging criteria and submission deadlines, visit the Marco Polo 100 Digital Build Challenge.

Please enable JavaScript to view the comments powered by Disqus.

Greystone Affiliate, America First Multifamily Investors, LP, Provides Construction Financing for …

Tax-Exempt and Taxable Bond Transaction Finances Significant Portion of Construction Costs. Email Print Friendly Share. October 27, 2020 09:27 ET …

NEW YORK, Oct. 27, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Greystone affiliate, America First Multifamily Investors L.P. (ATAX), has provided $22 million in tax-exempt and taxable bond financing for the $28.7 million construction of a 75-unit affordable housing property in Brawley, CA. The transaction was originated by Frank Bravo, senior vice president and originator at ATAX.

Pacific West Communities, based in Idaho, will benefit from the ATAX construction financing with a 24-month term and paydown of tax credit equity, and additional equity from a low-income housing tax credit investor. The project will be funded by $15 million in tax exempt bonds and $7 million in taxable bonds, to be privately placed with ATAX.

The planned property, Ocotillo Springs Apartments, will provide low-income housing for residents meeting 30-60% Area Median income (AMI). The apartment complex, to be comprised of four three-story buildings, is intended to be net-zero-energy and is funded in part by a grant received from the State of California’s Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund in 2019. The property will include a 3,000 sq. ft. community building with test kitchen, lab, playground, swimming pool, bike storage, fitness center, and BBQ areas. The Town of Brawley is located in Imperial County approximately 130 miles due East of San Diego, CA.

“Orchestrating this transaction for Pacific West Communities ensures that new affordable housing will be added to the depleted stock we have today in the U.S., and it also illustrates the importance of the 4% tax credit,” said Mr. Bravo. “In collaboration with Greystone, ATAX has created a one-of-a-kind financing product that will make these types of transactions possible.”

Greystone is the #1 provider of HUD-insured multifamily loans, a top provider of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac affordable housing loans, and acquired the parent of the General Partner of America First Multifamily Investors, L.P. in 2019. ATAX manages over $1 billion in assets consisting primarily of mortgage revenue bonds intended for multifamily affordable housing construction and permanent financing.

About America First Multifamily Investors, L.P. (ATAX)

America First Multifamily Investors, L.P. was formed on April 2, 1998 under the Delaware Revised Uniform Limited Partnership Act for the primary purpose of acquiring, holding, selling and otherwise dealing with a portfolio of mortgage revenue bonds which have been issued to provide construction and/or permanent financing for affordable multifamily, student housing and commercial properties. The Partnership is pursuing a business strategy of acquiring additional mortgage revenue bonds and other investments on a leveraged basis. The Partnership expects and believes the interest earned on these mortgage revenue bonds is excludable from gross income for federal income tax purposes. The Partnership seeks to achieve its investment growth strategy by investing in additional mortgage revenue bonds and other investments as permitted by the Partnership’s Amended and Restated Limited Partnership Agreement, dated September 15, 2015, taking advantage of attractive financing structures available in the securities market, and entering into interest rate risk management instruments. America First Multifamily Investors, L.P. press releases are available at

About Greystone

Greystone is a leading national commercial real estate finance company with an established reputation as a leader in multifamily and healthcare finance, having ranked as a top FHA, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac lender in these sectors. Loans are offered through Greystone Servicing Company LLC, Greystone Funding Company LLC and/or other Greystone affiliates. For more information, visit

SafeHarbor Statement

Information contained in this press release contains “forward-looking statements,” which are based on current expectations, forecasts and assumptions that involve risks and uncertainties that could cause actual outcomes and results to differ materially. These risks and uncertainties include, but are not limited to, risks involving current maturities of our financing arrangements and our ability to renew or refinance such maturities, fluctuations in short-term interest rates, collateral valuations, mortgage revenue bond investment valuations and overall economic and credit market conditions. For a further list and description of such risks, see the reports and other filings made by the Partnership with the Securities and Exchange Commission, including its Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2019 and its Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q for the period ended June 30, 2020. The Partnership disclaims any intention or obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.


Karen Marotta



City Council Approved $50 Million For Affordable Housing

The Greensboro City Council passed the new $50 million plan to improve affordable housing at its meeting last week. There are strange things done …

The Greensboro City Council passed the new $50 million plan to improve affordable housing at its meeting last week.

There are strange things done at virtual City Council meetings and this would be one of them. Not because the City Council unanimously passed the $50 million 10 year plan to improve access to and the conditions of affordable housing in the city, because that is one of the stated priorities of the City Council, but because the “Housing GSO Creating Opportunities to Build a Better Community” plan was passed on the consent agenda.

The consent agenda is a grouping of items that are supposed to be routine and housekeeping items that are all passed with one vote. There were 23 items on the consent agenda for the Oct. 20 meeting including items to approve the minutes of previous meetings, a contract to buy tires, a list of minor budget amendments and buying computer software.

Along with those items was the $50 million, ten-year affordable housing program that city staff working with consultants had taken over a year to develop and that the City Council had spent two work sessions discussing.

It was a long agenda and a long meeting, but this does seem to be the type of item that at least deserved to be read at a televised meeting and perhaps have a comment or two made about it. Passing a ten-year, $50 million plan hardly seems routine and the city staff didn’t seem to think it was so routine because the staff put out a press release about the new affordable housing plan. There was no press release about approving the minutes or any of those other items.

The plan will begin implementation in 2021 and includes buying and rehabilitating multi-family developments to use for affordable housing. The goal is to add 6,000 affordable housing units in Greensboro.

The plan also targets certain neighborhoods for rehabilitation of private housing and public areas. The neighborhoods being targeted for special attention include Dudley Heights, Glenwood, Random Woods, King’s Forest and the Mill District. The idea expressed in the study is that if the city will invest enough money to start the process of renewing those neighborhoods, private dollars will be attracted to those areas to complete the renewal process.

New public park coming to the corner of Main Street and East 7th Avenue

Artistic rendering of 188 East 6th Avenue, Vancouver. (Vancouver Affordable Housing Agency / Catalyst Community Developments Society).

The Vancouver Park Board has launched a public consultation process for a new centrally-located pocket public park at the northwest corner of the intersection of East 7th Avenue and Main Street in Mount Pleasant.

A new development currently under construction to the north of the site on the city block has set aside the southern half of the block, about 12,000 sq. ft., for the public park.

The online survey seeks public feedback on the type of character, uses, and features the public park should have.

The Park Board has indicated a possible design direction that is more than just an open grass lawn.

188 East 6th Avenue Vancouver

Artistic rendering of 188 East 6th Avenue, Vancouver. (Vancouver Affordable Housing Agency / Catalyst Community Developments Society)

Feedback collected will lead to a concept design this Winter, with another round of public consultation in Spring 2021 towards the finalization of the design. The park is expected to reach completion in 2022.

The nine-storey redevelopment on the city block at 188 East 6th Avenue is spearheaded by the municipal government’s Vancouver Affordable Housing Agency and Catalyst Community Developments Society.

188 East 6th Avenue Vancouver

Artistic rendering of 188 East 6th Avenue, Vancouver. (Vancouver Affordable Housing Agency / Catalyst Community Developments Society)

188 East 6th Avenue Vancouver

Artistic rendering of 188 East 6th Avenue, Vancouver. (Vancouver Affordable Housing Agency / Catalyst Community Developments Society)

It is an affordable housing project, with 145 new homes, plus retail and restaurant spaces on the ground level, which will help activate the streetscape and new public park.

On average, rents will be set at a minimum of 20% below market, with one-third of the homes rented at BC Housing’s Housing Income Limits.

Construction on the building is anticipated to reach completion in Spring 2021.

188 East 6th Avenue Vancouver

Construction progress of 188 East 6th Avenue in Vancouver, as of June 28, 2020. (Kenneth Chan/Daily Hive)