It’s hard to overstate the importance of stable access to housing, or the transformative difference it can make in our lives. More than just a roof over your head, having a place you can call home provides a foundation on which to build a healthy and fulfilling life. It’s a home base, where individuals and families can grow and children can thrive.
This idea – that housing is a basic necessity for all Canadians – is why Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) was first created shortly after World War II, to help returning veterans find housing. At its core, CMHC’s mission extends well beyond mortgages; the organization aspires to ensure that everyone living in Canada has an opportunity to find a home they can afford and that meets their needs.
Of course, building a better housing system isn’t something any one organization can do alone, and CMHC understands it will take a coordinated effort to address Canada’s significant housing challenges. Led by CEO Romy Bowers, CMHC works with everyone – from various levels of the government to non-profits as well as private sector stakeholders – to develop lasting solutions that span the entire housing spectrum.
Here’s a closer look at a few of the ways CMHC works to support Canada’s housing system, and helps provide the resources, research and expertise necessary to tackle Canada’s housing affordability crisis head-on.
Supporting newcomers and Indigenous Canadians
House hunting, whether you’re looking to rent or buy, can involve a number of unique hurdles, especially for those new to Canada who may be unfamiliar with the local housing landscape. Finding suitable housing is a crucially important step for putting down roots in a new country, and CMHC supports this important and growing segment of Canada’s population by providing newcomers with essential information, videos and tools to help guide them in their search.
These resources are made available to permanent and non-permanent residents alike, with no minimum period of residency necessary. CMHC provides guides on renting, buying, and securing a mortgage in Canada in eight different languages – including Mandarin/Simplified Chinese, Punjabi, Urdu, Tagalog, Arabic and Spanish – to help ensure this important information doesn’t get lost in translation.
CMHC also provides resources and programs for the improvement, maintenance and advancement of Indigenous housing. It offers financial support and funding options for building on- and off-reserve housing for First Nation, Métis and Inuit communities in Canada—-and in partnership with the government of Canada, it helps First Nation communities construct, purchase, or renovate on-reserve housing, by offering ongoing subsidies to more than 26,900 residences and contributing millions in annual funding to help renovate and retrofit housing units.
Meanwhile, the Indigenous Shelter and Transitional Housing Initiative devotes $721.1 million towards the construction of at least 38 shelters and 50 transitional homes across Canada for Indigenous people escaping gender-based violence.
Crunching numbers, crafting solutions
Beyond support, CMHC also provides crucial data and research on housing in Canada, boasting a team of economists, researchers and data analysts to examine trends and share up-to-date insights. Earlier this fall, the organization released an update to its annual housing report, providing new estimates on the amount of additional housing units Canada will need to build in order to achieve the country’s goal of restoring housing affordability by 2030.
These, and other reports, are intended to support the key focus areas of Canada’s National Housing Strategy. The NHS dedicates $541 million to a number of data, research and innovation initiatives to help explore and encourage innovative new ways of addressing Canada’s housing challenges—from the Collaborative Housing Research Network to NHS Solutions Labs, the CMHC Housing Research Scholarship Program and many more. These initiatives close important data gaps, empower evidence-based decision-making and drive research for more effective housing interventions.
Working to usher in a new era of housing in Canada
About that National Housing Strategy: simply put, it’s the largest and most ambitious federal housing plan in Canadian history. Over 10 years, the initiative will allocate over $82 billion to give more people living in Canada access to safe and affordable housing that meets their needs, as well as their budgets.
Cooperative in nature, the Strategy sees the public, private, and non-profit sectors come together with goals of cutting homelessness in half, helping 350,000 families in need of housing, and investing in the construction of up to 160,000 new homes—all of which should go a long way towards alleviating some of the pressure of Canada’s existing housing crisis.
Yes, they assist with mortgages too
Mortgages are just one piece of the housing puzzle in Canada, but they’re an undeniably important one, and part of CMHC’s mission to actively contribute to the sustainability and stability of Canada’s housing system. It’s in the organization’s name, after all.
As part of its commercial programs, CMHC provides mortgage loan insurance to eligible home buyers, which helps Canadians purchase a home with a lower down payment of less than 20%. This insurance safeguards your lender in case you’re unable to meet your payment obligations, and helps stabilize the housing market by ensuring mortgage funding is available to more Canadians, even during economic downtimes.
The organization is also Canada’s sole provider of multi-unit mortgage loan insurance, intended for residential properties of five or more units. CMHC helps facilitate renewals and lower borrowing costs for the construction of multi-unit residential properties, as well as their purchase and refinancing, by providing access to preferred interest rates. It’s just one more element of CMHC’s multi-pronged approach to ensure every Canadian is able to find a suitable place to call home.