Funding & Support Streams
Funding an innovative hybrid project of this magnitude requires a dedicated and diverse approach since there are many objectives that all interplay to create the holistic solutions that we are seeking from a community development approach that values sustainability, collaboration and dignity for all involved.
The hybrid approach that we are embarking upon is new to the field of social housing development in Canada. Because of this, accessing the typical funding streams can be difficult since we are overlapping in our scope of projected outcomes.
We recognize that at this stage, Green Ground is just starting out as an organization in a sea of non-profit and for-profit corporations, many of which already have decades-old established ties with local governments, funding agencies and institutions.
With this comes a challenge: How do we begin collaborating and bringing our fresh perspective into the mainframe of funding in Canada today to have the rural peoples' voices heard? The immediate needs and input of the people that these programs are serving is not being heard most of the time. This is what systemic oppression looks like in the board rooms and offices of the key players in our network of social and affordable housing.
Due to these challenges, we are striving to create a solid foundation of support and a pool of initial funds that will act as our collective voice as we approach the large funding conglomerates.
WE ARE STRONGER TOGETHER
First, our core team operate fully as volunteers to the mission, and are not being reimbursed financially for their time on the project. This includes web design, research, grant writing and outreach work.
Our Founder Supporter Membership fees will go towards our minimal overhead costs, such as web hosting, advertising and some preliminary viability study work, such as surveys and education. Any funds over these costs will be directed towards our Donations Savings Account that we hope will gather enough funds for a down payment on the property we hope to find and purchase.
Any donations received through our Crowd Funding Campaign will also be put into savings towards the cost of land and development. We believe this is the best strategy to ensure that we have some borrowing power with the banks and to help government to build confidence in the model as we develop it.
LAND AND FARM COOPERATIVE SHARES
SWEAT EQUITY PROGRAM
We will be structuring the land and farm as distinct Cooperatives, and with this will come the option to buy a share towards land co-ownership and the farming collective. Those who are Dweller Members will be the first to have the option to purchase these once we have incorporated the Cooperatives. These shares will be kept at a minimal base price, with the option for it to be worked off through our Sweat Equity Program, giving members the opportunity to work off their share by helping in the process of establishing ourselves on the land.
We believe that many hands make light work, and that everyone has a right to help build their home in exchange for it. We will be advocating for the government and the CMHC to acknowledge the value of SWEAT EQUITY when funding and financing our project. With this model, we will all have the opportunity to contribute towards our home build, design and down payment by our contributions through direct work on our home and the homes of our neighbours.
For the Farm Co-op Shares, Sweat Equity will be built into the Cooperative structure like a worker-owned Co-op, so this structure will be more easily replicated from other successful worker-owned Cooperatives.
We understand that not all members will be able to partake in the physical work but may have more capital funds that can be contributed in it’s place. With this in mind, we hope to establish a form of Low-Income Farmer Sponsorship, which would be a member contribution made towards a low-income Dweller's land expenses to offset their Community Work on the farm or on housing development. This could be through the Land and Farm Shares or run as a separate stream.
We believe in restructuring how money flows through the community and beginning to place more value in our ability to work together for the common good. It is a tricky thing, translating our skills and energy into common currency, but we believe that together we can create an equitable structure that all community members can greatly benefit from!
EXTERNAL HOUSING & AGRICULTURAL FUNDING SOURCES
Once we have an established pool of initial funds and a strong membership, we will be able to begin accessing federal funding through multiple streams, such as the National Housing Strategy grants and loans, delivered through the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), along with Provincial grants and Municipal supports throughout the development, as well as through the Canadian Agricultural Loans Act (CALA) and other farm support and skills development programs, such as through Employment Skills Development Canada (ESDC), among others.
Time is of the essence, as there is an expiry date and a cap on funds for these funding programs, so we must act quickly!
Our initial plan after gathering crowd-funded support and capital is to apply for a Sustainable Affordable Housing Planning Grant through the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) and the Green Municipal Fund. After which point, we would be eligible to apply directly to the CMHC for their Seed Funding Program for the Project. We have already spoken with a Housing Specialist from the CMHC and they were very excited about the viability and potential outcomes of our model, which is a great sign that there is support for this type of model within the instituional framework!
The Seed Funding Program can be combined with the FCM Study Grant. This Funding stacking would be through the CMHC's Co-Investment Fund, and could see up to 95% of our project funded with major (non-replayable) contributions and forgivable loans. Also stacked within these contributions would likely be municipal in-kind contributions, such as waiving of building permit fees, zoning density change fees, engineering and site survey costs.
The Canadian government recognizes how critical farmers are to our country. and through the Canadian Agricultural Loans Act, the government will act as a guarantor on loans to establish and regenerate farms accross the country. Unfortunately, even with this assistance, this loan is somewhat out of reach for most, due to the amount of equity still required up front. Green Ground's hope is that with our pooled resources from memberships and donations, we will be able to access this loan program to cover most of our costs of land and equipment. With a solid business plan and some equity, we can access up to $500,000 towards land and equipment. An Agricultural Cooperative looking for support in developing processing facilities and equipment may be able to access up to $3 Million. There are multiple ways to structure this, so we are looking forward to the Green Ground Think Tanks that will be happening in the new year as we work towards refining the vision of the Farm.