/Housing group launches community bond campaign

Housing group launches community bond campaign

By James Matthews, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Places for People aims to create affordable housing in Haliburton County while giving people a chance to make some coin off it.

Places for People (P4P) is offering individuals and organizations the

opportunity to invest in affordable and attainable housing in Haliburton by

purchasing a P4P Bond, a type of investment known as a community bond.

Community bonds are an innovative finance tool used by non-profits and

charities that provide capital for important projects plus returns to investors.

There are three ways people can invest in P4P’s efforts to put roofs over people’s heads.

Series A is a three-year bond investment option that will earn three per cent interest. It’s a minimum $1,000 bond and the interest is paid annually.

Series B is over five years and earns four per cent interest on a minimum $5,000 bond. Again, the interest is paid annually.

With the Series C option, a minimum $10,000 bond is a seven-year commitment that will earn five per cent interest. The interest and the principal are annually amortized.

P4P will use the bonds to refinance current projects and consolidate its financial picture. The organization can then undertake more larger developments that are environmentally sustainable.

The campaign goal is to raise $850,000 and be able to pay off existing loans and mortgage.

The P4P mandate is to create and manage secure, quality housing for low- and moderate-income tenants in Haliburton County, and to create the conditions under which they can thrive.

They have three duplexes and one single-family home in its portfolio of subsidized housing. There’s also a five-plex of market housing. That means they’ve housed 12 households in the county’s four townships.

In 2018, P4P undertook a major reconsideration of its model, from buying existing properties, renovating and renting, to doing multi-unit new-builds with small households in mind, said Fay Martin, vice-president of the board of directors. Martin is also chairperson of the property development and the tenant relations committees.

These multi-unit properties would be pricier than our old funding model could support.

“All our existing portfolio is funded by community investment,” Martin said. “Individuals hold mortgages or promissory notes. But it was unlikely that one individual could pony up the amount of cash that a 12-unit property would entail. So we needed to look at other methodologies.”

If the bond campaign is as successful as anticipated, Martin said it will be an arrow in the P4P quiver. But it won’t be an annual effort as each bond sale needs to be specific to a project or purpose because people need to know what they’re investing in.

“So, no, it won’t likely be an annual offering,” said Max Ward, the group’s treasurer. “But do look forward to future offerings.”

Martin said the community has always come through with support, whether it’s been fundraisers, other donations, or simply cheering the group on toward their goal.

“Some of our proposed projects have met with NIMBYism, but we don’t take that personally,” she said. “We think it is that people don’t understand the essential give and take that constitutes health in communities, and especially don’t understand the role of housing in community wellbeing as opposed to personal wellbeing.”

Martin said Haliburton County is in dire need of affordable housing.

With a recreation-driven economy, she said the county is a community of quite extreme economic disparity. There’s quite a large gulf between the haves and have-nots, and access to housing is a dramatic indicator of that disparity.

“We know that having secure, affordable, and appropriate housing is a foundational determinant of health,” she said. “But our market-driven culture has been in denial for decades, with the predictable outcome of this housing crunch. We are reaping what we have sown.”