Vancity launches Retrofit Program for Non-Profit Affordable Housing Providers

Vancity, Vancouver’s savings credit union, has launched its new Non-Profit Housing Retrofit Program to support climate-ready affordable housing.

The program, which is available to hundreds of non-profit housing providers across BC, aims to improve energy efficiency, reduce carbon emissions, and boost the overall sustainability of the province’s affordable housing stock. Non-profit housing providers, that are also Vancity members, are eligible to apply for grants up to $80,000 to support the development of retrofit projects.The credit union states that it is committing $5 million to the program over the next three years, with plans to increase the investment as the program evolves. Funds are being made available through Shared Success, the program through which Vancity shares 30 per cent of its net profits with members and community every year.

The first phase of the program will offer grants and in-kind support to facilitate foundational work in advance of retrofits, such as energy studies and portfolio planning. The second phase of the program will add support for housing co-operatives and help finance project implementation.

“The climate crisis will have a greater impact on those who’ve had the least to do with creating it in the first place,” said Andrea Harris, Vancity’s Vice President, Impact Strategy. “From supporting affordable housing to crafting solutions that promote a just transition toward a revitalized, sustainable economy, this program will make a tangible difference to our communities.”

The credit union’s ambition is to become net-zero by 2040 across all its mortgages and loans; in 2021, mortgages made up almost 90 per cent of the credit union’s lending-related emissions.

The new program is intended to complement existing government supports, such as the CleanBC Social Housing Incentives Program, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities’ Sustainable Affordable Housing Program, and Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s National Housing Co-Investment Fund.

Vancity is funding strategic partnerships with the BC Non-Profit Housing Association (BCNPHA) and the Aboriginal Housing Management Association (AHMA) to roll out the Non-Profit Housing Retrofit Program. Vancity will provide strategic partnership grants to both associations to build capacity in the sector.

“We’re so pleased to work with Vancity to support solutions that address the maintenance needs in non-profit housing in a way that improves tenant safety amid the effects of climate change,” said Jill Atkey, CEO at BCNPHA. “The sector is motivated to do its part to support the transition to a low-carbon future.”

“Supportive funding of this nature is rare and critical to improving the lives of Indigenous families across BC,” said Margaret Pfoh, AHMA’s Chief Executive Officer. “Through this retrofit program, Vancity is helping AHMA’s housing partners respond to serious challenges in keeping up with capital repairs and the cost of energy for those most impacted by housing insecurity. We commend Vancity for actively pursuing action on reconciliation, equity, and the environment.”

Vancity is supporting Affine Climate Solutions to provide consulting services to selected program participants to develop climate-aligned portfolio plans that promote emission reductions, resilience, and maintenance priorities.

“We are delighted to partner with Vancity and non-profit housing providers on this pioneering program.” Adding, “The targeted buildings house members of our community who are not only most significantly impacted by the housing affordability crisis, but also by the consequences of climate change. As we approach the anniversary of the 2021 heat dome, we are reminded of the importance to future-proof affordable homes to protect those who are most at risk in extreme heat,” says Michaela Neuberger, Executive Director, Affine Climate Solutions.

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