Langford councillors have decided to expand the reach of the city’s new attainable housing program, by including more unit sizes and making individuals eligible for funding.
The plan, announced in October, aims to use funding collected from developers through the rezoning process to pay up to 75 per cent of first-time homeowners’ down payments. It was originally earmarked for qualifying two-person households putting the money towards the purchase of a two-bedroom condominium.
At their Jan. 10 meeting council voted to ask staff to develop a bylaw that would not only make the funding available to qualifying individuals looking to get into the market, it could be used for one-, two- or three-bedroom units.
“We can’t not do this as politicians,” Mayor Stew Young said at the meeting. “We have to address the affordability issue and the home ownership issue.”
The initial program limited eligibility to households of at least two people, with residence in Langford for at least two years, earning less than $125,000 combined gross annual income, without real estate or more $50,000 in assets, and who qualify for mortgage pre-approval.
The minimum income requirements are based on estimates of what someone would need to make to qualify for a mortgage. For a one-bedroom unit, that minimum is $85,000, higher than the median income in Langford, based on 2016 census numbers.
Young reiterated several times that the program was about affordability and giving renters opportunities for home ownership.
Coun. Lillian Szpak said the program was “constantly growing and evolving,” and in future years could be expanded, depending on funding.
The program has accumulated $3 million in five years, the revenue coming from developers’ contributions to an affordable housing program. That money could help between 250 and 300 people, Young said, noting that 600 people have already expressed interest in the program.
After that money is spent, the program should be able to accommodate 100 people a year, depending on how much money gets put into the affordable housing fund, added Young.
An updated bylaw will be presented to council for approval at a later date and if approved, the program will begin accepting applications shortly thereafter.