–Britt Santowski, BA, MA, Publisher, SPN
Mention of “affordable housing” came up several times at the October 23 regular Council meeting.
The Knox Vision Society, who will be building a 42 rental-unit apartment block at the corner of Wadams Way and Church, requested relief from property taxes for 10 years and relief from development cost charges (DCCs). These contributions, which could make the District of Sooke an equity partner in the project, would help keep rents “affordable.” Councillor Bev Berger said any DCCs that get waived have to be covered by the taxpayers. (Council wisely requested a report from staff about the implications of waiving the DCCs, for the next meeting.)
On the affordable issue, a one bedroom unit would probably go for around $950, and if the reliefs were approved, another up-to $150 could be knocked off the rent.
A measure of affordability for rent, according to the CMHC, is that housing (rental, or mortgage) costs be no more than 30% of the household income. So, to make a one-bedroom $950 affordable, the annual household income would have to be $38,000.
Later that meeting, when discussing the 6599 Arranwood Drive Rezoning Application, the matter of “affordable housing” reared its head again. This development was deemed “affordable” by because it contained duplexes and triplexes, which are, as a rule, more affordable than single family homes.
Sooke Mayor Maja Tait said she struggles with the affordable housing component. While a development may duplex or triple-plex its homes, a realtor will still sell it at property value; there is no guarantee of affordability. Councillor Ebony Logins echoed this sentiment. Councillor Bev Berger said she would like to see 30% of an income set as the standard for pricing, at which point a staff shook their head, as if to indicate that simply was not possible. Councillor Kevin Pearson observed that Sooke does not have “an affordable housing workable solution,” adding “we have to be creative, we have to look at small homes.” He also said that we have to trust the private sector to work with us.
Use the table below to determine what your affordable rent or mortgage would be, based on 30% of your annual income.
|If your annual income were:||Your monthly income is:||You could “afford” (30% of your income) a monthly mortgage (or rental) payment of:||Which means you can assume a total mortgage* of:|
(*assuming a mortgage rate of 4.25, amortized over 20 years)
Council hasn’t addressed “affordable housing” in quite some time.
In 2006, the District created a Housing Reserve Fund Establishment Bylaw 259, that established a housing reserve fund to be used for affordable housing. The funds therein can only be used “for the purposes of fostering affordable housing.”
In their 2007 Affordable Housing & Social Housing Policy, the District set out the requirement for Multi-Family Residential Zones and Commercial Zones, requiring “that 10% (rounded to the nearest whole number) of all multi-family residential developments, where 10 or more dwelling units are being developed, shall be dedicated as affordable housing and sold at cost, or rented to eligible applicants.”
At that time (2006), the housing costs for single family dwellings (houses) hovered around $385,000, condos went for #295,000 and apartments for $72,500. Currently, according to a VREB report, a single family dwelling in Sooke now goes for $478,000; getting anything for under $80,000 is a pipe dream.
The Official Community Plan (OCP), last updated in 2010, affordable housing was heavily emphasized, noting that the Housing Reserve Fund was to be seeded to the tune of $50,000. According to provincial legislation, the OCP must be refreshed every five years.
Currently, in lieu of a 10% contribution towards affordable housing, Council has been accepting a $500 per residential unit contribution towards the Housing Reserve Fund, Bylaw No. 259, though clearly not diligently. At a June 2017 Council meeting, that number had grown (only) to $52,000.
The third time affordable housing was discussed at this recent Council meeting was in the possible near-future resurrection of committees at the District.
After killing all committees in early 2016, Council seems to have tapped into the power of Notices of Motion. Among a flurry of Notices of Motion to establish and resurrect a number of committees (initiated by elected officials Tait, Parkinson, Logins, and Kasper), was a motion from Councillor Logins that Council form (for the first time ever) an Affordable Housing Select Committee.
(Other committees to be created or reinstated by Notices of Motion are, if carried, the Arts Committee, the Sooke Community Centre Advisory Committee, the Youth Advisory Select Committee, the Land Use Select Committee, the Finance and Administration Select Committee, and a Trails Task Force).
So, there is some hope yet that through applied policy (emphasis on “applied”) the term “affordable housing” will one day become more than a euphemism for duplexes or triplexes, or even rental apartments, that continue to be priced out-of-range for youth, seniors, and anyone else whose income hovers around minimum wage.
Because for too many, housing in Sooke is currently anything but affordable.
- Get ready for new mortgage approval rules, starting in 2018
- Council expresses discomfort with the usage of the term, “affordable housing”
- Province introduces legislation to close fixed-term tenancy loophole
- Victoria housing crisis threatens family unity
- Ten townhouses coming to Ayre Road
- 40 provincially-funded senior housing units designated to come to Sooke
- Affordable housing comes to Sooke
- Alt energy tour features natural building, micro homes, lower-cost living, and food security
- Official opening of Harbourside Senior Cohousing, photo gallery
- Legislation taxes foreign purchasers of residential real estate, Vancouver only
- Op Ed: In the face of a housing crisis, doing the minimum is not good enough
- SPN Takeaways: Regular Sooke Council Meeting, July 11, 2016
- Provincial programs help with property taxes
- Guy Dauncey envisions an ecotopian west coast future, Monday, May 2 at the Sooke Harbour House
- Founding members wanted: New Cohousing Opportunity in Sooke
- NDP introduces two bills intended to address the housing shortage
- Sooke’s best kept secret: A senior cohousing community with 31 units sets a Canadian standard
- Sooke’s Harbourside Cohousing is going full steam ahead
- An overview of 2015 Real Estate in Sooke
- Sooke’s senior co-housing project gets noticed, nationally
- Changes improve access to services for tenants, landlords
- BC government rolls out funds to increase Aboriginal access to transition houses
- Hope Centre’s “Coming Home” mural created by four Aboriginal Artists, include one from the T’Sou-ke Nation
Also from the October 23 2017 Council meeting
- Council expresses discomfort with the usage of the term, “affordable housing”
- Alcohol abuse and domestic violence are crimes to keep an eye on in Sooke
- Controversial licence rescinded, business owner to appeal
- Business blindness needs to stop; request for public apology
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