This campaign will raise $1.1 million through community bonds towards the purchase of Propolis’ first property, located in the heart of Kamloops’ North Shore.
Techcouver sat down with Lindsay Harris, President of Propolis, to learn more about the campaign and the Society’s mandate to develop affordable, durable green homes that will contribute to growing vibrant neighborhoods.
What is Propolis Cooperative Housing and what is your vision for affordable housing?
LH: Propolis is a non-profit housing cooperative with a mandate to develop affordable, durable green homes that will contribute to growing vibrant neighborhoods in Kamloops. Using a co-op model, our project will have many of the advantages of both home ownership and home rental. Like a rental there’s a low financial barrier to entry and a lot of the property management is taken care of for you, but like home ownership, nobody is profiting off your housing and you have a say in the financial and operational decisions the co-op makes. This is possible because the residents are co-op members and the members own the cooperative.
Through this model, and by using creative strategies to bring down costs, we are able to provide our members with very deep affordability. Our 10 year financial model predicts that we’ll be able to provide housing fees (rent) for most units at under 55% of market rental rates in Kamloops. And as the co-op will be holding the property long after the founding members have passed, the cost will only rise with property tax and maintenance cost. It won’t be affected by rising real estate costs the way market rentals are. This provides deep, long term, sustainable affordability.
Our approach is also to look at affordability holistically: we are working on programs to make transport more affordable, we are prioritizing universal design in all units, and we are developing a net zero building to reduce ongoing utility costs.
We are planning on having a common workshop, gym, cafeteria/lounge, rooftop gardens, and rooftop decks. When you walk into the building, on the way to your apartment, you’ll be able to see what is going on in these common spaces and if there’s anything you want to get involved in – this helps bring the community aspects of the co-op to life.
These are some examples of how we plan to build stronger communities. Our immediate plan is to build 50 units of affordable housing above a new performing arts space, a daycare and one or two other commercial spaces. Ultimately, we plan to build a network of these buildings.
Your bond campaign is part of Tapestry Community Capital’s Investing in Housing program. Tell us more about your partner and this project.
TL: Tapestry Community Capital is a highly esteemed financial service consultant in Canada that specializes in community bonds. The organization has skillfully revolutionized the process of raising community investment by offering comprehensive support throughout every stage of our community bond process.
Tapestry has been selected as one of the 14 winners of the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) Housing Supply Challenge to support the creation of more housing in Canada. As part of that, we’ve partnered with them under their ‘Investing in Housing’ program.
Through this unique project, we have been able to foster strong relationships with our community investors, and social enterprises alike, enabling us to create sustainable solutions for all.
How are you raising money through community bonds and how are you managing the workflow?
TL: Community bonds are a proven social finance tool that generate both a social and financial return. It allows us to leverage the community of supporters across British Columbia to help finance the purchase of our property while offering them a solid financial return. Through our partnership with Tapestry, we are making use of their powerful database and accounting system, Atticus. The system is designed to align with workflows between Propolis and Tapestry, ensuring secure accurate care of investments for our investors.
How is Atticus being used by Propolis and what are the benefits of the software management system?
TL: With Atticus, Tapestry is able to help produce tailored reports for in-depth analysis of our bond campaign right from a comprehensive overview to granular details of daily transactions and calculations. The software is able to provide quick answers to any numerical queries we may have. Additionally, Atticus can effortlessly integrate with third-party email services, enabling us and Tapestry to easily send transactional emails to investors with just a click of a button. This feature also automatically alerts investors when they purchase a community bond.
Also, for the lifetime of the Bonds, Atticus will assist with processing interest payments, generate tax slips and manage maturity events. For an emerging co-operative like us, this saves us significant administrative time allowing us to remain focused on our core mission.
Who can invest in your project?
TL: Propolis Bonds are designed to attract a wide range of investors from everyday Kamloops residents to businesses, organizations and foundations across British Columbia. We’re really looking to connect with people who, like us, are noticing the housing crisis and want to invest in the improvement of the situation. Community Bonds are typically for investors that are looking to make a social impact. By purchasing Propolis Bonds, investors will physically see the “good” they are doing for the Kamloops community and earn a return as well.