HOME wreckers: B.C. cancels loan program for first-time homebuyers

The province announced today that it will cancel HOME — formally the B.C. Home Owner Mortgage and Equity Partnership program — a government loan program that aimed to help first-time homebuyers get into the B.C. housing market.

Latest government numbers show B.C. HOME Partnership program was missing targets

A program to help first-time homebuyers with their downpayments will soon go dark. (GP Mendoza/CBC)

For the current provincial government, it was never HOME sweet HOME.

The province announced today that it will cancel HOME — formally the B.C. Home Owner Mortgage and Equity Partnership program — a government loan program that aimed to help first-time homebuyers get into the B.C. housing market.

HOME provides loans of up to $37,500 or five per cent of the home's purchase price (up to a maximum of $750,000) to first-time homebuyers for a downpayment.  .

In announcing the cancellation, the government said the program had failed to meet expectations.

When it was announced in late 2016, it was expected that 42,000 British Columbians would use the program over three years.

Just over one year in, the government says it only attracted 3,000 applicants.

Program not an NDP favourite

The program was a creation of the previous Liberal provincial government and was never a darling of the now-ruling NDP.

Last month, the B.C. Real Estate Association said it would not be surprising if the NDP cancelled it.

It was also criticized by academics who said it could inflate housing prices and not provide help to those who needed it most.

The government says funding for the program will be redirected to HousingHub, a new program within B.C. Housing, to create "new partnerships to build affordable housing, while also developing innovative models to allow prospective homeowners to purchase homes and build equity."

The program will officially end at the end of March, the province said. Applications received by that time will still be considered.

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