Impossible to know where the subsidized housing is

Ottawa refuses to say to whom it loaned $1 billion in public funds to create so-called “affordable” housing in Quebec, which makes it impossible to know if it was indeed built.

Impossible to know where the subsidized housing is

Ottawa refuses to say to whom it loaned $1 billion in public funds to create so-called “affordable” housing in Quebec, which makes it impossible to know if it was indeed built.

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The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) says it has financed 38 projects across the province since 2017, thanks to loans at very advantageous rates.

In the midst of a housing crisis, CMHC believes that its program called the Financing Initiative for Rental Housing Construction (RLFI) will help more families find housing at a reasonable price.

In a response to an access to information request made by our Bureau of Investigation, CMHC did not want to reveal the name, location or number of dwellings of 32 of the 38 IFCLL projects. in Quebec.

These total loans of around one billion dollars in public funds.


CMHC defends itself by saying “that ultimately all projects will be made public”, but that it wishes to protect “the confidentiality of promoters”.

Promoter Max Mahi, who received $28 million for the construction of 81 housing units, including 29 affordable, in Vaudreuil, is surprised that the federal government does not want to reveal the existence of his project. (see other text below)

"It's with taxpayers' money, I don't understand their politics," he said.

In Quebec, mortgages are public in nature. We were able to find the CMHC loan in the land register.

“Information about a specific project cannot be made public until we have signed an agreement and a public announcement has been made,” says the federal agency.

In its list, Ottawa has however redacted a project which had been the subject of an announcement with two ministers of the Trudeau government and which is already under construction, namely Haleco, in Old Montreal.

This project of 327 housing units, including 77 affordable, benefited from the largest loan in Quebec, namely $135 million.

It is managed by the real estate arm of the Caisse de depot et placement du Québec, Ivanhoé Cambridge.

Secret until yesterday

Yesterday, after our Bureau of Investigation asked about the project, CMHC pleaded a redaction “error”.

“[Haleco] should have appeared on your list, but was unfortunately not present,” said spokeswoman Claudie Chabot.

According to CMHC, 19,349 homes are under construction in Canada thanks to IFCLL loans, but it is impossible to cross-check this figure.

On Monday, our Bureau of Investigation revealed flaws in the housing record of the mayoress of Montreal, Valérie Plante. In particular, we found, in the City's count, hundreds of dwellings that had not been built.​

The president and CEO of MB Groupe et Associés, Max Mahi, says he is very surprised that Ottawa does not want to inform the population of the existence of his project.

The promoter claims to have never asked to remain confidential and even organized a press conference to make his project public himself.

"I asked the mayor, the federal deputy, the provincial deputy to be there and they weren't there," he says. They are not interested in being there if there is no political interest. »

Yet, “they are still talking about affordable housing policy,” recalls Mr. Mahi.

His company was loaned $ 28 million by Ottawa for an 81-unit project in Vaudreuil, which will see the light of day next summer.

In exchange for a very favorable interest rate, he agrees to rent 29 of his homes at an “affordable” price.

Way too expensive

But Max Mahi thinks CMHC's affordability criteria are far too permissive.

" That does not make any sense. It gives almost $2,400-2,500 a month, it's no longer affordable, he decides. People at the same time have to pay their taxes, their taxes, their car to get around, their food...”

He believes he would not have been able to rent his apartments at this price.

" It's impossible. In Vaudreuil, the most the market can bear for a high-end 5 1⁄2 is $1,675 per month,” says Mr. Mahi.

In his project called Racine Vaudreuil, he will rent the housing much cheaper. His affordable 3 1⁄2s will be $993 per month and his 4 1⁄2s will be $1,194 per month, he says.

"I came here with two suitcases, I know what it's like to be in the middle class", says this Moroccan of origin.

Auditor's report

His remarks join the comments of the federal auditor general, Karen Hogan.

It pointed out, in a report published in mid-November, that CMHC affordable housing was “often unaffordable for many low-income households and people belonging to vulnerable groups”.


According to the CMHC definition, a dwelling is affordable if its base rent corresponds to less than 30% of the median annual income of the region where it is located. The accommodation must include a bathroom and a kitchen, but there are “no special requirements” for size.


Gatineau : 2682 $ 

Quebec: $2621

Montreal: $2405

Sherbrooke : 2261 $ 

Three-Rivers: $2,200