Langford Mayor Stew Young along with representatives from Belmont Residences and Devon Properties gathered at the new Crossing at Belmont development for a sneak peek at some of the one and two bedroom show suites.
Crossing at Belmont is launching one of Vancouver Island’s first rent-to-own programs so tenants have the opportunity to use a portion of their rent to offset the cost of purchasing a Belmont Residences condo down the line.
The development is made up of 156 rental units within a master-planned community that will also feature Belmont Residences West and East that will be completed by Spring 2020 and Spring 2022, respectively. Alongside the condos and rental units will be shops, restaurants and a Thrifty Food’s grocery store that is set to open in the spring.
Members of the development team said they are aiming for the Belmont development to become a core in Langford, similar to a downtown.
The one- and two-bedroom units have large windows that will overlook the Belmont development and the Galloping Goose Regional Trail. Because they are rental units, the developing team said they are made with more resilient materials that are easy to change if needed.
The City of Langford will also be supporting and partially funding this initiative with a subsidy of $5,000 to the developer, Ledcor, for each rent-to-own deal made with residents.
“We can’t solve the affordable housing crisis by blaming the provincial government,” said Young. “What I want to see is the province, municipalities and the private sector actually stepping up and actually trying to help solve the problem.”
Young said depending on how a three-month trial period with this program goes, he is hopeful that the City will amend its affordable housing policy to allow similar initiatives across Langford.
The program also takes some onus off the provincial government and puts the responsibility of affordable housing in the hands of residents, municipalities and the private sector, Young said.
“Langford will try to find a way to work with the people that are developing out here as we have always done and transition them into attainable and affordable housing,” Young said.
The City of Langford has contributed about $9 million over the last 10 years on 2,800 affordable housing units, Young said, but he noted this program is even better because the city will be able to see that people are committing to home ownership two years in advance by signing up.
Eric Gerlach, vice president of development for Ledcor, said the project has been difficult to try to pull off and has required some innovation on the part of the developer and the City. He said one thing that will draw residents in the Belmont area together, however, is their desire to live there.
“We want to be able to take that desire to live in Belmont and reward it,” Gerlach said. “If people are living there for two to three years and are told 25 per cent of their rent can be applied to a purchase, there’s significance there. It doesn’t solve all problems but it’s extra help, a push.”
For renters, 25 per cent of their monthly rent can accrue towards the purchase of a Belmont Residence condo to a maximum of five per cent of the value of the home. The City of Langford’s $5,000 contribution will go towards the deposit.
Marcela Corzo, director of development with Belmont Residences, said the expected demographics in the rental units are young individuals and people looking to downsize.
Corzo said it has been a long process getting to this point but is the development’s response to the affordable housing crisis.
“We want to help potential tenants become owners,” Corzo said. “It’s going to be the urban hub of Langford.”