Affordable housing is a fundamental right in any decent society. Yet affordability is getting more and more problematic for a great many people. In some places, even professionals like teachers and nurses cannot find housing that costs less than 30% of their monthly income.

Solutions are far from simple and straightforward. Many so-called “solutions” fail to preserve affordability over the long term.

There are three key factors that need to be addressed to achieve real solutions to housing affordability.

First, there is the value of land. It constitutes up to 50% of the value of shelter in many settings. The positive results achieved by land tenure options such as community land trusts, that remove land from the market, protect long-term affordability.

Second, the application of compound interest to mortgages is a big problem. Fee-based approaches to financing shelter have demonstrated in Sweden the potential to keep finance annual costs at an average of 2.5% of the mortgage value.

Third, ownership that is structured to unite individual with collective interests (the “I and the We”) needs to become much more common.

Private ownership (the “I”) of buildings encourages individuals to care for their dwellings as a means of increasing personal equity. Collective ownership (the “We”) of land stops the transfer of unearned equity to individuals or to speculative investments. It also protects individuals, whether renters or owners, from an escalation in costs. By uniting the I and the We, long-term affordability can be maintained and taxpayer investments in low and moderate-incomes housing minimized over the long term.

Approaches that combine these principles are well advanced and rapidly expanding in some jurisdictions, particularly the U.S and to a lesser extent in the U.K. While in Canada interest is growing in approaches that address these key factors, there needs to be more progress on the ground.

For example, Canadians have talked about but never piloted fee-based approaches to financing mortgages. Credit unions could well become centres for innovation and experimentation based on the co-operative approaches to fee-based finance that have proved so successful in Sweden.

CCCR’s Approach

CCCR is currently focussing its efforts in two main areas.

  • We are seeking opportunities to support and promote pilot projects that can advance innovative, robust, and durable models for provision of affordable shelter.
  • We support research, publication, promotion, and training that advances understanding of the benefits generated by housing models that unite the "I and the We.”

We also are monitoring approaches to address fuel poverty, a problem well-recognized in Europe but not so far advanced in North America. Escalating fuel prices will soon bring this problem sharply into focus. CCCR is keenly interested to learn how conservation and energy efficiency investments targeted at low and moderate income households can serve both to improve affordability and reduce carbon emissions.


Resources We Recommend

A research report by the BC-Alberta Social Economy Research Alliance (BALTA) that surveys a range of ways to re-define the rights associated with land tenure as well as  specific methods for working within or around the traditional land tenure system. Drawing on examples from Canada, United States, the United Kingdom, France, Sweden, and the Netherlands, the project identifies the key components... Continue reading: Alternative Land Tenure and the Social Economy ...
Debt, manufactured by banks without the backing of real assets and inflated over time through compound interest, redirects the wealth created in the productive economy to a non-productive financial sector. Over the last 200 years, several alternative, interest-free financing mechanisms have grown up. One of the most successful is a Swedish savings and loan co-operative, the JAK ("Land Labour... Continue reading: Sweden's JAK Bank ...
Burlington Associates in Community Development is the premier provider of technical assistance to community land trusts (CLT) In the United States. Its resource centre offers comprehensive coverage of the mechanisms and methods that American cities are using to structure investments in CLT startups, projects, and operations. Continue reading: Burlington Associates in Community Development ...
Champlain Housing Trust provides a wide range of housing to 2,000 households in the State of Vermont. It also provides a variety of services supportive of affordable housing, like technical assistance, training in community land trusts, a housing loan fund, and property management. Continue reading: Champlain Housing Trust ...
This publication of the New Economics Foundation proposes community land trusts as a way to separate the cost of land from the purchase price of the housing on it.In Britain, house prices have risen to such a degree that many bus drivers, nurses, teachers, and other key service providers cannot afford to own a home. Community land trusts take the land off the marketplace, making housing much more... Continue reading: Common Ground - for Mutual Home Ownership ...
The Community Land Trust Online Handbook is a rich compendium of materials by the E.F. Schumacher Society relating to Community Land Trusts: background materials on its principles and concepts; bylaws and articles of incorporation; and the history and legal documents for the creation of three famous CLTs, Indian Line Farm, Forest Row, and the Southern Berkshires. Continue reading: Community Land Trust Online Handbook ...