Property Acquisitions Tool


One of the most effective ways to address housing unaffordability is by preventing the loss of thousands of affordable units every year. An acquisitions strategy can help.

As the Federation of Canadian Municipalities reports, the erosion of private sector affordable housing is the biggest threat to Canada’s low and moderate income households. The acquisition of low-cost housing at risk of being lost by public and non-profit housing providers is one key way to address this problem.

Around two-thirds of affordable rental homes for those in low-to moderate-income households are provided by the private rental market. But there are very few policies to protect this critical stock of housing from loss due to investor repositioning or redevelopment. Since the withdrawal of the federal government from housing policy in the early 1990s, the focus has shifted wholly onto new build. The result is a net loss of affordable housing, with up to 15 rental homes available at $750/month lost for every new home built at that price between 2011 and 2016. We need to build more new affordable homes, but we also need to mitigate the losses of existing affordable homes before it’s too late.

In recent years housing advocates and researchers have proposed the development of an acquisition strategy to preserve existing unsubsidized rental housing. Our work has sought to report on how the acquisition of existing housing can contribute to the maintenance and expansion of affordable housing supply over the long term, and to develop resources supporting governments of all levels to implement an effective acquisition strategy.

What is HART doing for acquisitions? 

In our initial research we have produced three tools for governments to use:

A searchable map and database of acquisition strategies we have compiled to-date, highlighting essential information that policy-makers might refer to when designing their own strategies. View the database here.

Exploring the status of acquisition strategies in Canada, drawing on local and international examples to develop six best practices government should enact when designing their own acquisition strategy. Also available in French.

Step-by-step guides for Canadian governments at all levels. These are designed to help housing leaders take practical steps toward realizing an acquisition strategy that supports the social housing sector protect exiting housing affordability, no matter the starting point.