Affordable condo program doesn’t deliver on councillors’
City has acquired only 21 condo units for affordable housing since 2008
10 March 2015
A program that was supposed to provide hundreds of homes for people in
need has fallen far short of councillors' expectations, and they now
want real targets put in place.
So far, the city has only purchased 21 condo units for homeEd, the
city’s non-profit housing organization, since 2008.
“Twenty-one units in six years is not a success,” said Coun. Amarjeet
Sohi at a committee meeting on Tuesday.
The affordable condo program allows the city to buy five per cent of
units in new developments at 85 per cent of market value.
Coun. Bryan Anderson said he expected far more from the program after
so many years.
“There’s been unprecedented number of development permits for
multi-family housing, so it could have been hundreds and hundreds, and
it didn’t generate those numbers,” Anderson said.
City staff said one reason for the small number of units being
purchased is that many of the condo complexes, where the city might buy
units, have not yet been built.
Since the program began, the city has approved 40 buildings with the
condition they can purchase units for affordable housing. Of those 40
buildings only 21 units in 12 buildings have been purchased by the city.
So far, the city has only declined the option to buy units in two
projects, including the Pearl Tower on Jasper Avenue, because they were
Anderson said the idea to require developers to set aside condo units
for affordable housing was developed “willy-nilly” and was never
formalized with a city policy.
“It simply came out of somebody’s brain at a public hearing,”
“It simply came out of somebody’s brain at a public hearing,” Anderson
He said the practice was repeated with new condo developments until it
eventually became routine.
Coun. Ben Henderson countered that serious thought was given to the
idea, and said he was asked to serve on an advisory board to look at
affordable housing before he was elected.
But he called the lack of formal policy an “unfinished piece of work
that has been pending now for seven years.”
Walter Trocenko, support services manager, said creating a formal
policy will make the decisions about which condo units are purchased
Councillors asked city staff to draft a formal policy by June, and
include concrete targets so they can measure the success of the program.
The goal is for the program to eventually be self sustaining, as rents
for existing units help fund the purchase of new ones.
A 15% discount on the price of new
condos does not make them a great deal for the city. No wonder they
only bought 21 of them.
I can't figure out how buying new
condo units for affordable housing can ever become self-sustaining.
How "profitable" can affordable rents be?