City of Vancouver Island offers down payment grants to homebuyers

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The City of Langford, Victoria, is offering a helping hand to those who dream of owning their own home by giving them a five percent down payment on their purchase.

Langford is facing a housing affordability crisis like almost every other community in Canada, says Mayor Stew Young, but the city is digging into the fees it charges developers to build there and using the money to help. the first buyers with a down payment.

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The program was announced on October 19, seeking expressions of interest from those hoping to buy their own homes when the process kicks off in January.

In the first 24 hours, the city heard from more than 200 families interested in participating in the program, Young said.

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The accessible home ownership program will provide a maximum of 75 percent of the five percent down payment required for a two-bedroom condominium valued at $ 450,000 in Langford, he said.


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The program aims to help up to 250 qualified buyers to purchase a condominium in the city valued at $ 450,000 or less, Young said in a recent interview.

The grants, which will be awarded on a sliding scale based on gross annual household income of $ 125,000 or less, could rise to a maximum of $ 17,500, he said.

“We say, ‘Look, times are tough for a lot of people and housing is very expensive, so we can do the condo or townhouse market,” Young said. “If you live in Langford, we want to that you own a home, we want you to root your roots in our community.

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Applicants must have lived in Langford within the past two years, will need mortgage pre-approval at the purchase price, and no qualifying family member may own other real estate.

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Young said eligible families can also contribute up to $ 50,000 in cash or assets down payment, in addition to the maximum city grant of $ 17,500.

Single-family homes in Langford have an average selling price of $ 900,000, but condos could be affordable for families who rent and want to buy but can’t make the down payment, he said.

“It’s all really about helping people break out of the rent cycle and access home ownership and build equity for themselves, for their families and for the future,” Young said.

The city has set up a $ 3 million fund to help with the down payment plan, he said.


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Statistics from British Columbia show Langford was the fastest growing city in the province in 2020, with a population of 44,069. In 1996, Langford’s population was approximately 18,000.

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Young said the city is considering increasing the density of its downtown area, which includes proposals to build multiple 18- to 24-story residential condominium towers.

The neighborhood is mainly made up of single-family homes that were built as early as the 1950s.

A spokesperson for the British Columbia Home Builders Association of Canada said municipalities across Canada could play an important role in alleviating the housing affordability crisis.

John Drazic said city governments are responsible for rezoning applications, building permits and other approval processes that can speed up or slow down developments.

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“Where Langford has clearly been a pioneer is really in finding ways to be a progressive municipality by showing a leadership path by creating very streamlined processes for builders and developers to build in Langford,” a- he said in an interview.

The down payment grant is an example of ground-level approaches that can meet the needs of residents who want to buy homes in their communities, Drazic said.

“It’s an approach, and I really hope it resonates with other municipalities not just on Vancouver Island but across the province and across Canada, to see where they can take effective action to. this topic, “he said.

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Tim Allen, a retired Langford resident, said the prospect of helping people with down payments showed creative thinking on the part of the city government, but there are local concerns about over-construction.

“Really, development isn’t just about building housing,” said Allen, who was part of a group of residents concerned about reducing park space near housing projects. “You have to plan for all types of recreation and amenities, and parts of those amenities are of course green spaces. It’s not just hockey rinks.

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Langford’s official community plan provides for 40 percent of open space on development projects, which could be reduced to 25 percent if there are community benefits to the development, such as affordable housing.

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Ron Coutre, president of the West Shore Developers Association in Langford, said developers pay a high price to build in Langford, but the process is streamlined and results-driven.

“It’s just, again, another innovative way they’ve found to put hard cash in the pockets of people who need help to be able to buy their first home,” he said. -he declares.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on October 24, 2021.

© 2021 The Canadian Press

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