Michael Stanley, Executive Director of Community Involvement Legacy Homes, was sitting in his MBA Finance class at Cape Breton University when he first learned about Community Bonds. “I thought to myself, wow, this is amazing and why am I only learning about it now?!’’ Michael tells us enthusiastically as we meet them for the first time over a Zoom call.
Community Involvement Legacy Homes (CILH) was founded in 2007 and currently owns and operates nine single-family homes for adults with intellectual disabilities. Michael shares that they have been quietly operating in the community for many years but they are looking to rise to the occasion, and be an active partner in expanding affordable living options for all people, but in particular community members with intellectual disabilities. “We want a deeper tie and to share our history with the community. We are envisioning a community imagined, community-driven, and community-owned initiative for people to live well in our neighbourhood,” he shared.
CILH has a new project in the works to build and operate an affordable co-housing development in the Leeds and Grenville region. The project will be a three-way partnership with a nearby township that will provide the parcel of land, and a developer of prefabricated cabins.
“We need to think about the price of the unit, the rent for the tenants, but also about the carrying costs to the tenant and to us as the property manager,” says Michael. “These cabins are amazing because they are extremely energy efficient, low maintenance and even come equipped with rooftop solar installations.” The organization has also been in conversations with a local renewable energy co-operative to expand the solar energy production possible on the site.
Financially, the organization is in a very stable position. With all nine properties nearing the end of their mortgage terms, there is sizable equity that can be leveraged for future projects. Despite having carried debt on multiple properties for many years, Michael shares that the Board of Directors still has trepidations about taking on the risk and opportunity of such an investment. “I think it all comes down to this being very new, and it seems sort of out of left field when compared to our current model.”
“There are some areas where we would definitely need help,” shares Michael, “I think particularly on the marketing and community outreach piece, we would need more support.” Michael is the only paid employee of the organization and only works part-time.
We concluded our call on a high note. Michael shared his excitement for doing something new and innovative, and for the potential to introduce the concept of community financing to the Leeds Grenville region. “I think we have the perfect storm here,” says Michael with a smile, “Coming out of COVID, I think we all have a new and deeper appreciation for community. I love the community bond model because it allows us to take direct action rather than wait for the big powers that be to decide if our community deserves funding.”
About this Blog Series
In October 2021, Tapestry was selected to take part in a Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) program called the Housing Supply Challenge. This innovative competition encourages residents, interested parties, and experts from across the country to propose creative solutions to housing. The goal: to help meet Canada’s pressing need for safe and affordable homes by breaking down barriers to the creation of new supply.
Tapestry participated in Round 2 of the program, Getting Started, which seeks to find solutions to pre-development challenges, such as community resistance and obtaining financing. The program granted incubation funding to the 29 organizations selected to allow them to further develop and test their solution proposals.
Through six months of research and consultation, we had the opportunity to speak with over 40 interested parties in the affordable housing sector, from housing providers, to development consultants, to funders and lenders. Each and every individual and organization consulted helped to co-design our solution proposal.
The “Financing Affordable Housing with the Power of Community” blog series shares the lessons learnt and stories heard from some of the amazing organizations that we have partnered with.