British Columbia

City of Vancouver looks to buy homes and sell them at discount

The Affordable Housing Ownership pilot program is the latest scheme being considered by the City of Vancouver to try and help long-term residents afford to buy a house in a city where costs have risen out of reach for many.

Affordable Home Ownership pilot program to offer 300 homes at 80 per cent of cost

The City of Vancouver hopes to co-own up to 300 houses with residents as part of a new pilot project called Affordable Home Ownership. (Rafferty Baker/CBC)

The City of Vancouver wants to help moderate income earners buy 300 homes in the city. 

It's called the Affordable Housing Ownership pilot program and it will go before the city's finance committee on Wednesday.

"We're going to create an opportunity for people to enter into the housing market who have previously been able to rent but not been able to buy," said councillor Raymond Louie.

Under the program, the city would strike a deal with developers to acquire 20 per cent ownership of 300 new units. It would then turn around and sell those units to buyers for a discounted price — a price that would take into consideration the city's share in ownership.

"The city will have a stake in it and the city's stake will be held by the city, will continue to be held by the city in order to maintain that level of affordability," said Louie.

Louie says he hopes the pilot program will help the city learn how to make shared-ownership housing work in Vancouver.

Still the city will need help from the province to amend the Vancouver Charter — the city's provincial statute — in order to allow for the program.

Provincial support?

"What I'm hoping is that they'll understand what we're trying to accomplish here," he said.

"That we do need the province to make an amendment to the Vancouver Charter, which will authorize council to implement this new program and if their thinking is that this isn't necessary then I'd like hear what the province is proposing, because obviously there's a growing challenge for people in our city to live in it and own any property."

According to the report an amendment to the Vancouver Charter would take at least eight months.

B.C. Community Development Minister Peter Fassbender said he has yet to see the report city staff presented to council on the issue, but he welcomes it. 

However, he didn't seem as open to the idea of changing the charter.

"I'm not going to jump to opening the Vancouver Charter on one issue," Fassbender said. "I know the city has some perspectives. I appreciate that and I look forward to hearing them."

These are some preliminary criteria for prospective buyers:

  • Be a resident of Vancouver for the past five years.
  • At least one buyer must be employed.
  • Maximum household income for studio and 1-bedroom units for singles and couples with no dependent children living at home, $67,540/year.
  • Maximum household income for two and three of more bedroom units for single/dual parent families with dependent children living at home, $96,170/year.
  • Buyer must be the sole occupant, no renting allowed.


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