Monday October 18, 2021 | LANGFORD, BC [Updated October 21, 2021]
by Mary P Brooke, Editor | Island Social Trends
In some ways it seems to be out of the blue, but based on paying attention to shifts in community realities, the City of Langford has announced a new style of affordable home ownership, calling it ‘Attainable’ Home Ownership. It starts with providing a downpayment for people who are presently renters in Langford.
Changes in the economy and sky-rocketing rents have made it increasingly harder for buyers to secure a home for the future of their families. “With the high cost of housing and ever increasing amounts required for down payments, for many, the thought of homeownership is just an unattainable dream,” it is stated on the city’s website. This evening at Council, Mayor Stew Young says there clearly a housing crisis across Canada.
The mayor says the program will assist those Langford families who might otherwise be able to afford a mortgage payment but are struggling to save the amount necessary for a down payment as the cost of housing rises dramatically in the region. “We want to see more Langford residents in a position where they can purchase their own home.”
Leadership in finding solutions:
In recognition of these challenges, the City of Langford has introduced a first-of-its-kind initiative in Canada to help qualified buyers secure up to 75% of the down payment for their home.
Information about the Langford Attainable Home Ownership Program is now available on the City of Langford website at www.langford.ca/WelcomeHome .
Applications will open in early 2022. Ultimately about 250 applicants will be assisted in the initial round of the program.
The program is funded by developers (through the City’s Affordable Home Ownership Program, entirely funded by contributions made by developers as a condition of rezoning), at no cost to taxpayers, it was emphasized in the presentation made by staff at council this evening.
The public was able to hear and see the presentation remotely either by phone or online with Zoom. Present in the council chambers were Mayor Young, and councillors Denise Blackwell, Matt Sahlstrom, Lanny Seaton, Norma Stewart, and Lillian Szpak (Councillor Roger Wade was absent).
Starting with smaller family units:
To start, the program will support a broad definition of ‘family’, which for now is defined with a minimum of two persons and seems to align with the city’s promotional theme of being a family-based community. The program is designed to be adaptable to changing conditions over time, as pointed out by Councillor Lillian Szpak during the meeting this evening; one speculates that it could possibly include expanding the program to include people who live alone.
For now, part of the idea is to also drive the construction of more condos and townhomes as a way to provide housing that is affordable for people transitioning from renting to ownership. The minimum unit size needs to be 875 sq ft to 950 sqft. As more multi-family (high-density) housing units come on stream, pre-qualified applicants will be advised of the projects; arrangements are made between developers and prospective buyers.
Applicants need to pre-qualify for a $450,000 mortgage. The program is currently available to households who have a gross annual household income of up to $125,000. They must currently live in Langford and have lived in the municipality for the past two years and currently not own real estate.
The City will provide a grant to qualifying families (a family being two or more people in a household) for a percentage of the necessary 5% down payment at the time of closing.
“By providing a portion of a down payment to eligible applicants, the Attainable Home Ownership Program will help those who otherwise may not have been able to enter the market,” says Mayor Young.
The discussion at council did not delve into the reasons why rental accommodation in Langford is so expensive. Though it’s observable that with the large volume of mortgage-helper housing types that have been built in the City over the last decade or so, that rents within those houses have increased over the years as the private owners keep up with mortgage and investment costs.
Houses are simply more costly to build as the years go by, to keep up with more strident building codes and overall consumer demand for a quality middle-class lifestyle.
The City of Langford very much promotes home ownership, for the benefits of a strong and strengthening tax base. This new Attainable Home Ownership Program not only opens the door for renters to become home owners, it will open up more rental spaces for incoming residents and young adults leaving their parents’ homes for an independent lifestyle. Thereby, the custom-made home ownership class who rely on renting out suites in the larger homes that they buy as investments, are also served in a continuing manner.
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