BCNPHA Help Desk

The Basics

Why does BCNPHA exist?

BC Non-Profit Housing Association provides leadership and support to members in creating and supporting a high standard of affordable housing throughout British Columbia. We are an organization that exists to forward the cause of affordable housing and empower those who work within it – we accomplish this in part by coordinating advocacy campaigns, conducting extensive research on housing, and bringing players in the housing sector closer together through educational conferences and networking events.

What is non-profit housing?

Non-profit housing is rental housing that is owned and operated by community-based non-profit societies. The mandates of these societies is to provide safe, secure affordable accommodation to households with low to moderate incomes or special needs. Most non-profit housing societies receive some form of financial assistance from government to enable them to offer affordable rents. Each society operates independently under the direction of a volunteer board of directors. Most employ staff to manage the day-to-day operations, though volunteers run some smaller societies. Non-profit housing is not public housing.

How do I apply for non-profit housing?

BCNPHA does not provide housing services; however, there are several other ways to apply for housing. Contact BC Housing (the provincial housing authority) at Applicants can now apply through the Housing Registry, a current, centralized database of applicant information for housing providers and a single application point for households who wish to apply for housing in the Lower Mainland. The Housing Registry makes it possible for applicants to apply for housing with multiple housing providers by contacting one agency and completing one application form.

Information Services Vancouver also publishes The Red Book, which has a housing section. The Aboriginal Housing Management Association also manages housing.

How do we define affordable housing?

BCNPHA defines affordable housing in the same way that major Canadian housing agencies do – if you’re spending no more than 30% of your pre-tax household income on rent and utilities, it is considered affordable.

What is the difference between affordable and co-op housing?

The terms affordable and social housing are often confused. While all social housing is affordable, the term ‘social housing’ refers more specifically to housing that is subsidized by a level of government. Affordable housing includes housing provided by the private, public and not-for-profit sectors and all forms of housing tenure (i.e. rental, ownership and cooperative ownership). It also includes temporary as well as permanent housing. In other words, the term “affordable housing” can refer to any part of the housing continuum from temporary emergency shelters through transition housing, supportive housing, subsidized housing, market rental housing or market homeownership. (HomelessHub – Canadian Observatory on Homelessness )

Housing co-operatives can also be affordable housing if they meet the 30% rule. However, a few things distinguish co-op housing from other forms of community housing. Co-ops are based on community ownership rather than a tenant/landlord style model, where all those living in the community are part owners and members of the housing cooperative. On a regular basis, these members elect a board of directors to represent their interests and make decisions about co-operative governance. For more information on housing co-ops, please visit or contact

Where do I get information about rental housing data?

The Canadian Rental Housing Index provides a solid, data-driven foundation for policy-making decisions at all levels of government. It is updated continually as new data becomes available. The Index uses supply and affordability data from the 2016 census to measure the health of rental housing across Canada. The RHI can be found at the link here.

BCNPHA also holds an extensive database of non-profit assets. This information can be made available upon request for the purpose of research and housing needs studies.

For more information or guidance on how to get what you are looking for out of the RHI data or to access our non-profit asset database, please contact with a brief description of your question/objective.

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