Higher interest rates and inflation have forced Langford council to up the income requirements for its attainable housing policy.
Now a one-bedroom apartment at a purchase price of $399,000 would need a minimum income of $108,000 to meet the estimated requirements for a mortgage. That’s up from $85,000 when the program was started. While the minimum income is not a cut-off for the program, applicants do need to provide a pre-approval for a mortgage as part of their application.
The maximum income for a one-bedroom to be accepted into the program has also been upped from $115,000 to $125,000.
Income requirements have been upped across the board for all unit sizes.
Median total income of households in Langford in 2020 was $93,000 in 2020, according to 2021 Statistics Canada census data, up from $80,331 in 2016 (the previous census data available).
Council also voted to change the residency requirement. Previously applicants had to have lived in Langford for two years, but now they can either have lived or worked in Langford for six months in order to allow commuters into the program. There’s also an exception to the resident rule for members of the Canadian Armed Forces posted in Victoria and members of the RCMP.
The program, first announced back in October 2021, is designed to help those on the cusp of home ownership enter the market with a grant to cover a portion of the down payment.
Those making less than $119,999 can get 75 per cent of the five per cent down payment as a grant, those making $120,000 and $134,999 can get 50 per cent and those making $135,000 to $150,000 can get 25 per cent.
During public participation, residents brought forward a number of concerns about groups that were being missed out by this program.
Acknowledging those concerns, Coun. Keith Yacucha said the program is one way the city is trying to combat the affordable housing crisis, adding that helping residents buy homes will free up rental units for those who aren’t yet eligible.
Coun. Mary Wagner highlighted a number of groups she felt were being missed out, initially motioning for council to look into making more units accessible for people with disabilities and adding a provision for health-care workers (similar to the one already in place for military and RCMP members). Coun. Colby Harder suggested requiring apartments come with storage units, but was cautioned against that by Braden Hutchins, director of corporate services with the City of Langford. Hutchins said adding costs to the developer would make it challenging for the program to continue, considering how construction costs have risen.
So far, 47 units have been secured for the program. Two other projects have approved zoning and a commitment to participate in the program but have not yet proceeded to the housing agreement stage (where it comes before council).
The program has a mailing list of over 900 people, with seven applicants approved so far.
Council ultimately decided to discuss extra amendments to the policy at a committee of the whole meeting at a future date.
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