News

Langford puts affordable housing on the market

By Steve Haywood/News staff

For the sixth time since the beginning of the City of Langford’s affordable housing program, the municipality is seeking applications from potential owners of one of their 68 homes.

May 23 is the deadline for people to apply to purchase a condo unit for $124,000, plus tax. The unit is one of Langford’s supply of condos and houses that have been added to their pool of affordable options for individuals and families seeking their first home.

The City began its affordable housing program in 2004, after realizing there were many young families from the area, looking to buy their own homes.

“There was a real need perceived, not only in Greater Victoria, but in Langford as well,” says Coun. Denise Blackwell.

Blackwell has been on council since 1992 and said when the Capital Regional District was developing an affordable rental housing program for the broader region, Langford decided to go out on its own.

Blackwell said council of the day and residents of Langford agreed people wanted to own their own homes – not just rent them.

“This was meeting a community need,” she said of the affordable housing program.

Saying the CRD program has been very successful, Blackwell added so has Langford’s affordable housing program. It’s considered one of a kind, but other municipalities in B.C. – like Sechelt – are following their example.

In cooperation with the development community, real estate agents and financial institutions, Blackwell said council and city staff put together their own program.

Senior Planner Leanne Taylor said when new subdivisions or housing developments have come on stream, a portion of those units are required to be part of Langford’s pool of affordable homes – one for every 10 units built, or these days, one for every 15.

Taylor said that was changed after 2008 when the economy tumbled. In return, developers receive a 10-year tax benefit.

They also have the option of contributing cash to Langford’s affordable housing reserve fund. It’s from that pool of money that the city hopes to buy additional units.

With homes in Langford averaging between $365,000 and $390,000, said Taylor, the affordable homes are being sold for much less - $173,000 after taxes for a house and $130,000 (after tax) for a condo.

These are homes, added Blackwell, that are built to the same appearance as other units in the neighbourhood and even have the added bonus of being more accessible for people with disabilities.

What makes the program work, continued Blackwell, is the great cooperation between all parties.

“There’s a very high level of trust between the council and the development community,” she said, adding from project application to process and decision-making, council has committed to making it go as quickly as possible.

Blackwell said she knows Langford has a younger population than other parts of Greater Victoria. Many of those people might work throughout the region, but due to its lower housing prices, choose to live on the West Shore.

Taylor added its role is to find and help families to be able to buy their own home. If their situation improves at any time, she continued, they can sell the unit through the municipality if it’s within a 25-year time frame. Beyond that, the unit can be sold at current market value.

“This is about enabling people to purchase their own home at an affordable price,” said Blackwell.

The City of Langford does have a waiting list for these homes, Taylor added. Those applications, as well as new ones are being accepted up until the May 23 deadline and will each be reviewed fairly and on their merits.

To qualify, an applicant must have lived in Langford for two years, held a job in the city for last least six months and have a household income of no more than $60,000 for a house, or $50,000 for a condo. For full application requirements, contact the City of Langford or go to cityoflangford.ca.

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