Some things just need to be said...

Monday, January 30, 2006

Affordable Housing

Building more affordable housing
All Canadians should have a fair chance to own or rent their own home.
The plan

A Conservative government will:

• Work with the provinces and municipalities to develop tax incentives for private-sector builders so that low-income city dwellers will have improved access to affordable housing. Specifically, on an experimental basis to supplement existing programs we will establish a low-income housing tax credit program. Beginning in 2007-08, we will set aside $200 million annually in the form of federal tax credits to encourage developers to build or refurbish affordable rental units in which at least 40 percent of the occupants earn less than 60 percent of the local median income.
pg 37, Conservative Party platform

I have yet to see any examples of how much housing this tax credit is supposed to deliver? Do provincial governments have to match the proposal? Will the provinces be providing rent subsidies on top of the Conservative federal government's tax credit to builders? If so how have we gained anything?

I am not against rental subsidies and see them as part of any affordable housing plan. They do provide many people with the ability to choose where they want to be. The trouble comes when housing markets are tight. Rents go up and housing subsidies don't always follow upward trends.
Another alternative might be co-op housing. I know some are poorly run, but many are not. They allow people to have security, the buildings are paid for from rents, not government. They have a mix of subsidised and market rates.

One of the better aspects to Co-ops is that if something happens you have a better chance to remain in your housing as subsidies can be made available to those that lose their job or cannot work.

As an individual I like them both, my question is how many units will the Conservative program provide? Hhow much will it cost us to per unit and is the criteria set too low to qualify for the tax credit? It suggests that 40% of the unit occupants must earn less than 60% of the median income in the area. Here in Kelowna a family income is over $50,000. If you are earning 8 to 10 dollars an hour that is still only 15 to $20,000. What would the rent be? The building owner would have to provide 20 of 50 units to people earning less than 30,000 approximately.

Would these units be significantly cheaper to rent? Likely the local market would dictate the monthly rent unless there were rent controls. So we may do a better job of making housing cheaper for those earning $15/hour which is important but what about the family earning half that.