The Federal Lands Initiative is a $200-million fund that supports the transfer of surplus federal lands and buildings to eligible proponents. This is available at discounted to no cost to be developed or renovated for use as affordable housing. The discount on the property will depend on the level of social outcomes achieved by the winning proposal. Once transferred, the property will be developed or renovated into affordable, sustainable, accessible and socially inclusive housing.

The Federal Lands Initiative is led by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) with support from:

Properties currently available for the Federal Lands Initiative

Coin du Nord (Land ID QC-MT-M001)
Three-storey building of 18 units located in the borough of Montreal-North.

Ajax (Land ID ON-AJ-M001)
32, 33 & 36 Roosevelt Avenue in Ajax, Ontario.

Pleasantville Lots (Land ID NL-PV-L002)
Lots 5 - 8 and 13 - 17 are located in the Pleasantville area of St. John’s, Newfoundland.

Maitland (Land ID: NS_HRM_L001)
2095-2219 Maitland Street in Halifax, Nova Scotia


How it works

How surplus federal property is made available for use as affordable housing:

  1. Property is identified: Federal government departments and Crown corporations identify property that is no longer needed

  2. Due Diligence: Federal property owners perform necessary due diligence on the property (Indigenous consultations, environmental/physical condition assessments, etc.)

  3. Property Assessment: Federal property owners determine whether land and/or building(s) are suitable for use as affordable housing.

  4. Property review: Federal lands Initiative team reviews evaluated properties and expresses interest in suitable property. Re-zoning or pre-development work may be done at this stage.

  5. Property for Sale: Suitable property is made available for sale through the Federal Lands Initiative and posted to the CMHC-NHS website.

  6. Applications Accepted: Housing providers apply to purchase property for affordable housing project. Proposals are evaluated based on accessibility, affordability, environmental efficiency and community need.

  7. Project Selected: Winning application is selected and property is sold at discounted to no cost. Cost is based on the project’s social outcomes, proponent experience and project proposed. Agreements are signed to ensure the property is developed and maintained as affordable housing for no less than 25 years.

  8. Housing is built or renovated: Affordable housing is created or rejuvenated to the benefit of the community.

View or download the PDF to learn more

Eligibility and Requirements

The Federal Lands Initiative is open but not limited to the following groups:

  • community housing organizations
  • non-profit organizations or registered charities
  • co-operative housing organizations
  • municipal, provincial and territorial governments including their agencies
  • Indigenous governments and organizations, including Tribal Councils
  • for profit organizations

Eligible affordable housing projects include, but are not limited to:

  • mixed-income
  • mixed-use (commercial space should not exceed 30% of gross floor area)
  • mixed-tenure
  • shelters
  • transitional housing
  • supportive housing
  • rental housing
  • affordable homeownership
  • Minimum Requirements

    Proposals to build or renovate surplus federal property into affordable housing must meet the following minimum requirements:

    • Affordability: At least 30% of units must be less than 80% of Median Market Rent, for a minimum of 25 years.
    • Accessibility: At least 20% of units must meet accessibility standards and projects must be barrier-free or demonstrate full universal design.
    • Energy Efficiency: New projects are required to achieve either a 25% decrease in energy consumption and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions relative to the 2015 National Energy Code for Buildings or the 2015 National Building Code; OR a 15% decrease relative to the 2017 National Energy Code for Buildings.
      For repair or renewal projects, a 25% decrease in energy use and greenhouse gas emissions relative to past performance of the property is required.
    • Evidence of Community Need: Proponents must provide a clear description of how their project will meet the needs of the community and at least a letter of support from the municipality, a market study or waiting lists for social or affordable housing in the community.
    • Experience: Proponents, or their team, must indicate a minimum of 5 years of experience in the construction/renovation and operation of projects of similar size and scope.
    • Financial Viability: Projects must meet the minimum debt coverage ratio (DCR) of 1.10.




Contact CMHC’s Affordable Housing Specialist if you need more information than what is available online. They are experts in the specific needs, challenges and opportunities within their unique markets across Canada.

General inquiries about the National Housing Strategy or technical support

Date Published:: May 2, 2018