Calgary

Homeless group fears CMHC bank cap will tighten rental market

A change by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation could affect the effort to get Calgary's homeless into rental accommodations.

Housing agency's bid to limit mortgage-backed securities could keep people renting longer

A change by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation could affect the effort to get Calgary's homeless into rental accommodations.

Effective immediately the CMHC — Canada’s national housing agency — will limit banks and other mortgage lenders to $350 million worth of new mortgage-backed securities per month.

The Calgary Homeless Foundation fears new federal restrictions on mortgage-backed securities will keep people in the rental market longer, hampering its drive to get people off the streets. (CBC)

The decision comes in the wake of "unexpected demand" for the guarantees, the agency said.           

According to Louise Gallagher of the Calgary Homeless Foundation, changes could make it harder for some people to get mortgages, encouraging them to stay in the rental market longer.

And that’s bad news for her organization, she said.

"Anything that decreases the number of rental units available out there makes it harder for us as well to find housing for the people we serve," she said.

Gallagher says the floods also damaged some rental units or forced people into rentals while their homes are getting fixed.

Nonetheless, the foundation will continue to pursue its mission to end homelessness in just over four years, she said.

Home sales strong

Meantime, the latest sales numbers show house sales in Calgary were unseasonably strong last month.  

Normally sales slow in July and August as families and realtors go on vacation.    

But there was a 17 per cent increase this July from last year.

Becky Walters, head of the Calgary Real Estate Board, said the spike is probably not flood related.

"I don't think people just all of a sudden went ‘huh, disaster let's make a decision’, you know, I don't really think that was the crux of the change.

"I think the biggest change is we have all these extra people in the city," she said.

Walters said as long as people keep moving to Calgary for jobs, the market should stay strong.    

Smaller communities outside Calgary such as Langdon, Airdrie and Cochrane are also seeing strong sales.