Tag Archives: affordable housing

Rent-to-Own Homes: How the Process Works

If you’re like most home buyers, you’ll need a mortgage to finance the purchase of a new house. To qualify, you must have a good credit score and cash for a down payment. Without these, the traditional route to homeownership may not be an option.



There is an alternative, however: a rent-to-own agreement, in which you rent a home for a certain amount of time, with the option to buy it before the lease expires. Rent-to-own agreements consist of two parts: a standard lease agreement and an option to buy. Here’s a rundown of what to watch for and how the rent-to-own process works. It’s more complicated than renting and you’ll need to take extra precautions to protect your interests. Doing so will help you figure out whether the deal is a good choice if you’re looking to buy a home.

You Need to Pay Option Money

In a rent-to-own agreement, you (as the buyer) pay the seller a one-time, usually nonrefundable, upfront fee called the option fee, option money or option consideration. This fee is what gives you the option to buy the house by some date in the future. The option fee is often negotiable, as there’s no standard rate. Still, the fee typically ranges between 2.5% and 7% of the purchase price. In some contracts all or some of the option money can be applied to the eventual purchase price at closing.

Read the Contract Carefully: Lease Option vs. Lease Purchase

It’s important to note that there are different types of rent-to-own contracts, with some being more consumer friendly and flexible than others. Lease-option contracts give you the right – but not the obligation – to buy the home when the lease expires. If you decide not to buy the property at the end of the lease, the option simply expires, and you can walk away without any obligation to continue paying rent or to buy.

Watch out for lease-purchase contracts. With these you could be legally obligated to buy the home at the end of the lease – whether you can afford to or not. To have the option to buy without the obligation, it needs to be a lease-option contract. Because legalese can be challenging to decipher, it’s always a good idea to review the contract with a qualified real estate attorney before signing anything, so you know your rights and exactly what you’re getting into.

Specify the Purchase Price

Rent-to-own agreements should specify when and how the home’s purchase price is determined. In some cases you and the seller will agree on a purchase price when the contract is signed – often at a higher price than the current market value. In other situations the price is determined when the lease expires, based on the property’s then-current market value. Many buyers prefer to “lock in” the purchase price, especially in markets where home prices are trending up.

Know What Your Rent Buys

You’ll pay rent throughout the lease term. The question is whether a portion of each payment is applied to the eventual purchase price. As an example, if you pay $1,200 in rent each month for three years, and 25% of that is credited toward the purchase, you’ll earn a $10,800 rent credit ($1,200 x 0.25 = $300; $300 x 36 months = $10,800). Typically, the rent is slightly higher than the going rate for the area, to make up for the rent credit you receive.But be sure you know what you’re getting for paying that premium.

Maintenance: It May Not Be Like Renting

Depending on the terms of the contract, you may be responsible for maintaining the property and paying for repairs. Usually, this is the landlord’s responsibility so read the fine print of your contract carefully.  Because sellers are ultimately responsible for any homeowner association fees, taxes and insurance (it’s still their house, after all), they typically choose to cover these costs. Either way you’ll need a renter’s insurance policy to cover losses to personal property and provide liability coverage if someone is injured while in the home or if you accidentally injure someone.

Be sure that maintenance and repair requirements are clearly stated in the contract (ask your attorney to explain your responsibilities). Maintaining the property – e.g., mowing the lawn, raking the leaves and cleaning out the gutters – is very different from replacing a damaged roof or bringing the electric up to code. Whether you’ll be responsible for everything or just mowing the lawn, have the home inspected, order an appraisal and make sure the property taxes are up to date before signing anything.

Buying the Property

What happens when the contract ends depends partly on which type of agreement you signed. If you have a lease-option contract and want to buy the property, you’ll probably need to obtain a mortgage (or other financing) in order to pay the seller in full. Conversely, if you decide not to buy the house – or are unable to secure financing by the end of the lease term – the option expires and you move out of the home, just as if you were renting any other property. You’ll likely forfeit any money paid up to that point, including the option money and any rent credit earned, but you won’t be under any obligation to continue renting or to buy the home.

If you have a lease-purchase contract, you may be legally obligated to buy the property when the lease expires. This can be problematic for many reasons, especially if you aren’t able to secure a mortgage. Lease-option contracts are almost always preferable to lease-purchase contracts because they offer more flexibility and you don’t risk getting sued if you are unwilling or unable to buy the home when the lease expires.

Who’s an Ideal Candidate for Rent-to-Own

A rent-to-own agreement can be an excellent option if you’re an aspiring homeowner but aren’t quite ready, financially speaking. These agreements give you the chance to get your finances in order, improve your credit score and save money for a down payment while “locking in” the house you’d like to own. If the option money and/or a percentage of the rent goes toward the purchase price – which they often do – you also get to build some equity.

While rent-to-own agreements have traditionally been geared toward people who can’t qualify for conforming loans, there’s a second group of candidates who have been largely overlooked by the rent-to-own industry: people who can’t get mortgages in pricey, nonconforming loan markets. “In high-cost urban real estate markets, where jumbo [nonconforming] loans are the standard, there is a large demand for a better solution for financially viable, credit-worthy people who can’t get or don’t want a mortgage yet,” says Marjorie Scholtz, founder and CEO of Verbhouse, a San Francisco–based start-up that’s redefining the rent-to-own market.

“As home prices rise and more and more cities are priced out of conforming loan limits and pushed into jumbo loans, the problem shifts from consumers to the home finance industry,” says Scholtz. With strict automatic underwriting guidelines and 20% to 40% down-payment requirements, even financially capable people can have trouble obtaining financing in these markets.

“Anything unusual – in income, for example – tosses good income earners into an ‘outlier’ status because underwriters can’t fit them neatly into a box,” says Scholtz. This includes people who have nontraditional incomes, are self-employed or contract workers, or have unestablished U.S. credit (e.g., foreign nationals) –  and those who simply lack the huge 20% to 40% down payment banks require for nonconforming loans.

High-cost markets are not the obvious place you’ll find rent-to-own properties, which is what makes Verbhouse unusual. But all potential rent-to-own home buyers would benefit from trying to write its consumer-centric features into rent-to-own contracts: The option fee and a portion of each rent payment buy down the purchase price dollar-for-dollar, the rent and purchase price are locked in for up to five years, and participants can build equity and capture market appreciation, even if they decide not to buy. According to Scholtz, participants can “cash out” at the fair market value: Verbhouse sells the home and the participant keeps the market appreciation plus any equity they’ve accumulated through rent “buy-down” payments.

Do Your Homework

Even though you’ll rent before you buy, it’s a good idea to exercise the same due diligence as if you were buying the home outright. If you are considering a rent-to-own property, be sure to:

  • Choose the right terms. Enter a lease-option agreement rather than a lease-purchase agreement.
  • Get help. Hire a qualified real estate attorney to explain the contract and help you understand your rights and obligations. You may want to negotiate some points before signing or avoid the deal if it’s not favorable enough to you.
  • Research the contract. Make sure you understand:
    • the deadlines (what is due when)
    • the option fee and rent payments – and how much of each applies towards the purchase price
    • how the purchase price is determined
    • how to exercise your option to buy (for example, the seller may require you to provide advance notice in writing of your intent to buy)
    • whether pets are allowed
    • who is responsible for maintenance, homeowner association dues, property taxes and the like.
  • Research the home. Order an independent appraisal, obtain a property inspection, make sure the property taxes are up to date and ensure there are no liens on the property.
  • Research the seller. Check the seller’s credit report to look for signs of financial trouble and obtain a title report to see how long the seller has owned it – the longer they’ve owned it and the more equity, the better.
  • Double check. Under which conditions would you lose your option to buy the property? Under some contracts, you lose this right if you are late on just one rent payment or if you fail to notify the seller in writing of your intent to buy.

The Bottom Line

A rent-to-own agreement allows would-be home buyers to move into a house right away, with several years to work on improving their credit scores and/or saving for a down payment before trying to get a mortgage. Of course, certain terms and conditions must be met, in accordance with the rent-to-own agreement. Even if a real estate agent assists with the process, it’s essential to consult a qualified real estate attorney who can clarify the contract and your rights before you sign anything.

Source: Investopedia – Jean Folger Nov. 6, 2018

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Rent control is doing little to curb Toronto’s soaring rents

Haider-Moranis Bulletin: In the long run, rent controls reduce the growth in available rental stock, which further accelerates the increase in rents

In April 2017, Ontario’s then-Liberal government introduced the Rental Fairness Act, which expanded rent control to all private rental units.Cole Burston/Bloomberg

Do stricter rent control laws slow the increase in residential rents? Housing advocates and left-leaning governments believe they do. However, recent data from Ontario appears to offer further proof that this is not the case.

In April 2017, Ontario’s then-Liberal government introduced the Rental Fairness Act, which expanded rent control to all private rental units. The Act restricted rent increases to 1.5 per cent in 2017 and introduced additional provisions to protect tenants from being evicted.

The Act was enacted to protect against “dramatic rent increases.” Chris Ballard, then the Minister of Housing and Poverty Reduction, claimed that the Act would ensure that Ontarians “have an affordable place to call home.”

 

The Toronto Real Estate Board’s (TREB) Rental Market Report for the second quarter of 2018 revealed that the Rental Fairness Act has had no observable impact on market-based rents, which grew at similar rates from 2017 to 2018 as they did from 2016 to 2017. In fact, three-bedroom apartments experienced a significant increase in average rents in 2018.

TREB’s data is based on its rental listing service for the Greater Toronto and surrounding areas. From April to June 2018, almost 12,000 apartments were listed while 8,497 were leased. One and two-bedroom apartments constituted the largest segments of rental units. Also, almost a thousand townhouses were listed and 665 leased for the same period.

TREB data provides more of a market-based view of the rental market than what has been reported by the CMHC. Unlike TREB, which lists market-based units (condominiums and townhouses) that are primarily owned by private investors, CMHC’s reporting of rental markets is largely for, but not restricted to, purpose-built apartment rentals.

Despite the differences in rental stock between CMHC and TREB, even CMHC’s data reveals that instead of a break, rental rates accelerated in 2017. For instance, rents for two-bedroom units increased by 3.3 and 3.2 per cent in 2015 and 2016 respectively but jumped 4.2 per cent in 2017. If proponents of stringent rent controls were hoping for a decline in rent acceleration, it didn’t happen.

The purpose-built rental universe has remained steady across most of Canada. In the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), the number of purpose-built rentals has remained around 330,000 units for more than a decade. During the same time, the number of rental condominiums in the GTA increased from under 50,000 to more than 100,000 units.

CMHC data for October 2017 reported average rents for two-bedroom units at $1,392 and $2,263 in purpose-built rental buildings and condominium apartments respectively. In comparison, TREB reported the average rent for two-bedroom condominium apartments in the fourth quarter of 2017 to be $2,627. Even for the condominium apartments, TREB reports higher rents attributed most likely to the higher quality of the underlying stock.

CMHC reported rents for purpose-built rental buildings are significantly lower because of their less than ideal location and dilapidated condition, a result of age and deferred maintenance. These buildings have remained under rent control for decades, and their owners are disincentivized to improve the quality of the rental stock. TREB data, by contrast, is based on privately owned rental condominiums whose owners, until recently, were incentivized to maintain their units in a state of good repair.

Since April 2017, condominium rentals and other dwelling types have also come under the rent control regime, thus creating the same disincentives for structural improvements of units as the ones observed for the purpose-built rentals.

The CMHC data reveals that, as expected, average rents in older buildings were lower than rents in newer buildings. Furthermore, rents on average are higher in the high-density urban core than the low-density suburbs, making suburbs significantly more affordable to rent than in or near the downtowns.

With high turnover rates where new tenants are not subjected to rent restrictions, rent controls are ineffective tools for addressing rapid rent increases. The average rent for units in purpose-built rentals and condominium apartments has risen far above the stipulated rate since the Rental Fairness Act was enacted. In the long run, rent controls reduce the growth in available rental stock, which further accelerates the increase in rents.

Rent stability is achievable primarily by increasing the supply of the rental stock. This requires changes in regulations to facilitate, instead of hindering, new residential development.

Murtaza Haider and Stephen Moranis September 5, 2018

Murtaza Haider is an associate professor at Ryerson University. Stephen Moranis is a real estate industry veteran. They can be reached at www.hmbulletin.com.

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Mississauga Neighbourhood Ranked One of the Last Affordable Areas in the GTA

 

If you want to buy a home but you’re not a millionaire, there are only so many affordable neighbourhoods left in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), and even then, becoming a homeowner is difficult if not near impossible—especially with higher interest rates and more vigorous mortgage stress tests.

However, one neighbourhood in Mississauga was deemed one of the last affordable in the GTA in a recent Toronto Life article.

As everyone know, Mississauga is not the most affordable city to buy a home in general. According to a recent Royal LePage report, the aggregate price of a home (combining all home types, including two-story homes, bungalows and condos) sits at $758,750. A two-story home typically costs buyers $873,194 (which is down from the $1 million+ highs we were seeing this past winter).

But at a time when the housing market is still hot and it’s hard to find a reasonably priced home anywhere, one pocket of land in Mississauga still hits the mark as a hot GTA neighbourhood.

There’s hope for non-millionaires who just want a half-decent house in a nice area with good schools,” says Steve Kupferman of Toronto Life.

Can you guess where?

According to Toronto Life, the Hurontario neighbourhood (namely Heritage Hills) is one of the last affordable neighbourhoods – of 20 – to buy a home, coming in at number 17.

Boasting an average sale price of $651,671, Toronto Life says “it’s easy for middle-class families to score an affordable home just steps away from the urban core.”

The magazine calls out the surrealness of seeing a massive cluster of distinctly urban high-rises from the window of your suburban low-rise. That said, they were right to single out the neighbourhood built around a large ­public park, as it’s pretty ideal for families—especially since it boasts paths to the two schools in the area: St. Matthew Elementary and Huntington Ridge Public School.

The house Toronto Life zeroed in on? A detached three-bedroom house on Bourget Drive that was listed for $789,888 and sold for $775,000.

Can you believe that, back in February, a cozy home sold for more than $200,000 over asking? How times have changed!

But what counts as a hot neighbourhood in the GTA, you ask?

According to Toronto Life’s list of the last affordable neighbourhoods in the GTA, it’s “a good-sized house in a safe neighbourhood, with decent schools and leafy green space and a commute that isn’t soul-­crushing.”

Without breaking the bank on a million-dollar home, of course, because not all of us are millionaires (yet?!).

This list was curated based on real estate data across the GTA, as well as information from brokers and residents. Researchers also examined access to parks, schools, shopping areas, and transportation into downtown Toronto to determine the best places to live for under a million bucks.

“They’re the last best hope for the desperate house hunter—and the neighbourhoods everyone will be jockeying to buy into 10 years from now,” says Kupferman.

A home is, of course, a huge investment, and you don’t want to be overwhelmed with debt just for a place to call your own. Though that might still be the case if you’re trying to buy a home in the GTA anytime soon, regardless of the neighbourhood.

But, some neighbourhoods are more affordable than others, so you might want to snatch up a home in the Hurontario area while you still have a chance.

“Only virtual millionaires, or ­non-millionaires with millionaire parents, or non-millionaires willing to commit to a lifetime of crippling debt, could afford to break into the housing market,” Kupferman says in the article. “Everyone else had to settle for cramped condos and crumbling fixer-uppers.”

As for other hot GTA neighbourhoods, The Junction Triangle in Toronto topped Toronto Life’s list, with Mimico and West Rouge close behind. Northwest Brampton, Central West Ajax, and Eglinton East sit at the tail end.

You can check out the other neighbourhoods on the list here.

Map courtesy of Toronto Life

Cover photo courtesy of Google Maps

Source: insauga.com – by Ashley Newport on July 14, 2018

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Brand New Affordable Housing Development Coming to Mississauga

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t’s no secret that housing has become increasingly more expensive in Toronto and the GTA, with detached houses typically costing buyers in Mississauga and surrounding cities between $800,000 and $1 million (often more) and condos—even modestly-sized two-bedroom units—running buyers over $500,000.

With wages failing to keep up with soaring real estate values (and with renting becoming increasingly more costly as homes become more valuable), a lot of lower and middle-income earners have been locked out of the real estate market entirely. Those who have managed to rent or purchase homes in the city are often paying well over 30 per cent of their household income on shelter costs.

For that reason, residents might be pleased to hear that a brand new affordable housing development recently broke ground in the Malton area of Mississauga.

Late last month, Habitat for Humanity Halton—Mississauga, City of Mississauga and Region of Peel staff and officials hosted a groundbreaking ceremony to celebrate the launch of the Bristow-Law Build Project.

The property, located at 3073 Merritt Ave., was purchased for a toonie. Once home to a fire station, the land has since undergone a rigorous clean-up process and will soon to be transformed into four new homes for local families in need of an affordable place to live.

“The process from paying the city a toonie to now took about three years,” says John Gerrard, CEO of Habitat for Humanity Halton—Mississauga.

“[Councillor Carolyn Parrish] came to us and said ‘I think I can get you some land. There are some issues, you’ve gotta work through those issues,’ and we did.”

Gerrard says the main issue was the environment.

“With a fire station on site, there’s bound to be some form of environmental element that needs to be cleaned, so we did the first round and cleaned 97 per cent of it and had to go back and do one more round just to be sure. That takes almost 16 months, but now we’re here. We’ve submitted all our paperwork, it’s in the city planning department. We hope to start in September.”

Groundbreaking ceremony

Gerrard says the project, which he expects will take about 12 months to complete, will boast four two-storey units with basement suites that can be used for other family members.

“These are big homes, they’re four and five bedroom units, which are very rare. We’re very excited we can do that here in Malton, there are lots of large families here and lots of new Canadians and they tend to have larger families.”

Gerrard says the building, once complete, will house up to 20 individuals.

While the project won’t result in a massive affordable housing structure, it’s one of several projects geared towards providing more housing for the city’s lower and middle-class residents. Earlier this year, a new Daniels development with affordable units broke ground at 360 City Centre Drive.

The city has been working to increase affordable housing stock with its Making Room for the Middle strategy, a plan that involves petitioning senior levels of government for taxation policies and credits that incent affordable housing; piloting tools such as pre-zoning and a Development Permit System to develop affordable housing in appropriate locations (close to transit systems, for example); encouraging the Region of Peel to develop an inclusionary zoning incentive program for private and nonprofit developers; encouraging the region to investigate the cost of deferring development charges on the portion of affordable units provided in newly constructed multiple dwellings and more.

“Affordable housing is at the heart of our plans to build complete city,” says Mayor Bonnie Crombie.

“A Mississauga where people have access to modern public transit, and can find good paying jobs, earn an education and enjoy an unrivalled quality of life. The City of Mississauga was pleased to sell this land, a former city fire station, for a toonie. Now that’s a deal.”

As for how the Habitat project will work, Gerrard says the initiative is unique in the sense that it will allow families to become homeowners.

“This project is very unique. What happens is the family are given the home on title. They’re sold the house at fair market value, which, in this case, could be $700,000. However, they only pay 30 per cent maximum of their net home income. So if only two family members are working, they only pay 30 per cent of what they can.”

Gerrard says the residents can spend 70 per cent on all the other things they need, such as education, food, clothing and other necessities.

“That’s why our food bank use is so high, because when you have to choose between shelter and food, you sometimes choose shelter and don’t eat.”

Families who wish to move on can sell the unit back to Habitat—and take some equity with them.

“The next best thing is that they will be able to sell it back to us and we’ll keep it affordable, but give the family every penny back plus the equity, so they don’t have to go through a long process, they can give it back and we give them the value back,” says Gerrard.

“We retain the unit for another family in perpetuity. It will always be affordable housing and we’ll manage it with the family. It’s an extension of giving a hand up, and it gives a further hand up because they can buy a new home with their deposit. They take equity with them as well. It’s a homeownership program, but they’re guaranteed to get out what they put in, so if the market drops, they’re protected.”

As for who will get to move into the project once it’s complete, Gerrard says the families have not yet been chosen.

“Traditionally the building process is a long process, it can take from one to three years, we used to pick our families early on and they would have to wait and it would be frustrating, especially in some cases where people are desperate for housing,” he says.

“We work with our families and select them 120 days before the project is completed. That way, they see the reality, they see its coming and they can plan appropriately. We want them to come and learn all the extra things, like financial management, how to take care of a home, etc.”

As for the project taking shape in Malton, Councillor Parrish says it’s an ideal neighbourhood for the development.

“It’s particularly nice to welcome Habitat for Humanity to the Malton community. Malton has for some years lived down a reputation as a rough town, it’s not,” says Parrish. They are the sweetest, kindest, nicest people, and you’ll see that as you’re building here. They’ll bring you coffee and tea and they’ll be coming with their hammers and saying ‘what can I do?'” It’s a wonderful village.”

Parrish said Habitat and the city faced some challenges in terms of moving the development forward.

“It’s wonderful to have you here. Habitat is probably the most innovative group I’ve ever met, you’re always one step ahead of where the government is and you do a great job. We had a lot of problems with resistance from the airport. Thanks to the mayor and council, we’ve actually negotiated with the GTAA to change the rules around here. This is a great location, we hope to get more semis and more housing out here. The Region has been incredible.”

In terms of who will eventually live in the structure, Gerrard says Habitat works with a number of organizations to decide which families are ideal candidates.

“They could be on the Peel housing list or referred to us. We work with community groups, women’s shelters, any organization with families. We try to help anyone in need.”

And while this project is more modest in scope, Gerrard sees more substantial developments in Habitat for Humanity’s (and Mississauga’s) future.

“We’ve been working on some big projects for a couple years now. We’re hoping our next development will be somewhere in the neighbourhood of 120 units, so we’re in discussion with some developers in the community on some land, and ultimately our objective would be to work within the City of Mississauga’s new affordable housing strategy,” he says.

“We’d like to have a mixed environment that gives young people the opportunity to buy a home, at the same time being able to retain inventory to help the next family and the next family and the next family.”

The development should be complete by the fall.

 

Source: insauga.com – by Ashley Newport on July 8, 2018

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Canada to admit nearly 1 million immigrants over next 3 years

Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen said that by 2036 100 per cent of Canada's population growth will be as a result of immigration, it stands at about 75  per cent today.

Economic class will make up about 60% of newcomers

Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen said that by 2036 100 per cent of Canada’s population growth will be as a result of immigration, it stands at about 75 per cent today. (CBC)

Canada will welcome nearly one million immigrants over the next three years, according to the multi-year strategy tabled by the Liberal government today in what it calls “the most ambitious immigration levels in recent history.”

Canadian immigration levels by year

The number of economic migrants, family reunifications and refugees will climb to 310,000 in 2018, up from 300,000 this year. That number will rise to 330,000 in 2019 then 340,000 in 2020.

The targets for economic migrants, refugees and family members was tabled in the House of Commons Wednesday afternoon.

Hussen said the new targets will bring Canada’s immigration to nearly one per cent of the population by 2020, which will help offset an aging demographic. He called it a historic and responsible plan and “the most ambitious” in recent history.

“Our government believes that newcomers play a vital role in our society,” Hussen said. “Five million Canadians are set to retire by 2035 and we have fewer people working to support seniors and retirees.”

In 1971 there were 6.6 people of working age for each senior, Hussen said, but by 2012 that ratio had gone to 4.2 to 1 and projections show it will be at 2 to 1 by 2036, when almost 100 per cent of population growth will be a result of immigration; it stands at about 75 per cent today.

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Hussen said immigration drives innovation and strengthens the economy, rejecting some claims that newcomers drain Canada’s resources and become a burden on society.

He said the government is also working to reduce backlogs and speed up the processing of applications in order to reunite families and speed up citizenship applications.

Canadian immigration class levels by year

The federal government’s own Advisory Council on Economic Growth had recommended upping levels to reach 450,000 newcomers annually by 2021. Hussen said the government is taking a more gradual approach to ensure successful integration.

“At arriving at these numbers we listened very carefully to all stakeholders who told us they want to see an increase but they also want to make sure that each and every newcomer that we bring to Canada — bringing a newcomer to Canada is half of the job. We have to make sure that people are able to be given the tools that they need to succeed once they get here,” he said.

Focus on integration: Rempel

Conservative immigration critic Michelle Rempel was critical of the plan, suggesting the government needs to do a better job of integrating newcomers.

“It is not enough for this government to table the number of people that they are bringing to this country. Frankly the Liberals need to stop using numbers of refugees, amount of money spent, feel-good tweets and photo ops for metrics of success in Canada’s immigration system.”

Chretien Ceremony 20170925

Luiz Capitulino, 11, of Brazil joins others take the oath as they become official Canadians during a citizenship ceremony at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa on Sept. 25, 2017. The federal government will welcome 310,000 newcomers to Canada in 2018. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

She said the Liberals need to bring Canada’s immigration system “back to order” by closing the loophole in the Safe Third Country Agreement that has seen migrants cross into Canada at unofficial border crossings only to claim refugee status.

She also said the immigration system should focus on helping immigrants integrate through language efficiency and through mental health support plans for people who are victims of trauma.

Dory Jade, the CEO of the Canadian Association of Professional Immigration Consultants, welcomed the news although he suggested the numbers should be higher.

“Canada will greatly prosper and grow once the 350,000 threshold has been crossed,” he said. “Nevertheless, we are witnessing a very positive trend.”

The Canadian Council of Refugees also welcomed the news, but wanted more, saying the share for refugees was only increased slightly from 13 per cent this year to 14 per cent in each of the next three years.

Calls for longer-range forecast

In past, there has been a one-year figure for how many immigrants will be permitted into the country, but provinces and stakeholders have called for longer-range forecasts.

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A statement from Ontario’s Immigration Minister Laura Albanese, before the announcement, said the province supports the introduction of multi-year levels plans “to provide more predictability to the immigration system and inform program planning.”

“Significant variation in year-to-year immigration levels can dramatically impact the requirement for provincial year-to-year resources. A longer term outlook would help in planning for appropriate service levels and use of resources.”

The statement said Ontario supports growth in immigration levels, particularly in economic immigration categories to support the growing economy.

Diversity drives innovation

During the government’s consultation period, the Canadian Immigrant Settlement Sector Alliance presented “Vision 2020,” what it called a “bold” three-year plan to address growing demographic shifts underway in the country, calling for increased numbers in the economic, family and refugee categories.

It recommended a target of 350,000 people in 2018, which climbs to 400,000 in 2019 and 450,000 by 2020.

Chris Friesen, the organization’s director of settlement services, said it’s time for a white paper or royal commission on immigration to develop a comprehensive approach to future immigration.

“Nothing is going to impact this country [more] besides increased automation and technology than immigration will and this impact will grow in response to [the] declining birth rate, aging population and accelerated retirements,” he told CBC News.

Source; CBC.ca – Kathleen Harris, Chris Hall, Peter Zimonjic, CBC News 

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Liberals look to ease affordability concerns with release of housing strategy

Liberals look to ease affordability concerns with release of housing strategy

The plan will put a heavy focus on housing supply building tens of thousands of affordable housing units over the next decade and repurposing other cash to maintain housing supplements.

There are expectations that the plan will also include a new portable benefit that low-income renters can carry with them through the market.

Those are just two of a number of anticipated measures aimed at making housing in Canada more affordable, particularly for the 1.7 million households that are forced to spend more of their disposable income than they should on housing.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will be in Toronto to unveil the details of the plan, while Social Development Minister Jean-Yves Duclos travels to Vancouver to make a simultaneous announcement on the West Coast to mark National Housing Day.

Recently released census data found that 1.7 million households were in “core housing need” in 2016, meaning they spent more than one-third of their before-tax income on housing that may be substandard or doesn’t meet their needs.

Outside of Vancouver, the cities with the highest rates of core housing need were in Ontario. In Toronto, close to one in five households were financially stretched the highest rate of any city in the country.

The government hopes that building 80,000 new affordable rental units, along with billions more in spending over the next decade, will lift 500,000 of those families out of core housing need and help a further 500,000 avoid or get out of homelessness.

The details of how the spending will roll out are of keen interest to housing providers and cities. Municipal leaders have been meeting with federal officials this week to talk about the national housing strategy.

The Liberals laid the financial backbone for the plan in this year’s federal budget, promising $11.2 billion over a decade in new spending. About $5 billion of that money the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. is expected to turn into $15 billion by leveraging $10 billion in private investment.

Still, most of the money won’t be spent until after the next election in 2019, which concerns anti-poverty groups.

Those groups are planning demonstrations in multiple cities today, demanding the Liberals spend the full $11.2 billion before the next election.

Source: The Canadian Press

Liberals look to ease affordability concerns with release of housing strategy

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Mississauga Moves Towards Making Housing More Affordable

Source: Insauga.com – by Ashley Newport on October 17, 2017

It’s no secret that housing in Mississauga (and the overall 905 area) has become increasingly more expensive over time. With detached houses costing buyers $900,000 to $1 million and compact condos selling for over $400,000, residents are turning to the rental market and being equally as disappointed to see that prices are no more kind there (in some cases, two-bedroom suites can cost close to $2,000 a month).

The housing crisis is one that Mississauga has been, to its credit, taking seriously.

The City of Mississauga’s Planning and Development Committee recently adopted the city’s first housing strategy: Making Room for the Middle: A Housing Strategy for Mississauga.

According to the strategy, there’s a pressing and dire need to create affordable housing for middle income earners who are in danger of being priced out of the city.

Some of the draft’s findings are alarming, even though they’re not at all surprising.

Some key facts:

  • A home is considered affordable when its inhabitants spend 30 per cent or less of their earnings on housing costs
  • 1 in 3 households are spending more than 30 per cent of their income on housing and research suggests this number will rise
  • Middle income households typically net between $50,000 and $100,000 a year
  • Middle income earners include nurses, teachers and social workers
  • People who want to purchase homes can typically afford to pay between $270,000 and $400,000, meaning their only options are condos and a limited selection of townhouses
  • Housing prices are adversely affected by supply and demand imbalances (there’s much more demand than there is supply)
  • The average rental unit costs $1,200 a month
  • Rental inventory is 1.6 per cent (which is troublingly low)

The city is focusing on middle income earners because they typically make too much to qualify for government assistance, but still cannot afford to rent or purchase homes in the city. When people are priced out of their communities, the social and economic fabric of the area is compromised. If the middle class is forced to move further away, the city will only be suitable for very high and low-income earners–something leaders are hoping to prevent.

The city says the Strategy is Mississauga’s plan for fostering a supportive environment for the development of a range of housing that is affordable for all. While it targets middle-income households, it will also benefit lower-income households.

To be clear, the Region of Peel is responsible for subsidized housing (meaning housing associated with low-income earners who require special assistance to afford adequate shelter in Mississauga, Brampton and Caledon). While attention must still be paid to lower-income residents (Peel has a notoriously long subsidized housing waitlist and too few shelters for those in need), middle-income households have not been widely supported in terms of housing supply.

Generally speaking, middle-income earners—think social workers, journalists and clerical workers—do not qualify for financial assistance and cannot afford housing at current market prices.

Ideally, the strategy will help provide opportunities for lower-income households by freeing up supply.

The strategy offers 40 actions supported by the Mississauga Housing Advisory Panel, a group of over 20 housing professionals from the public, private and non-profit sectors that shared their knowledge, advice and solutions. It also includes a five-year action plan centred on municipal powers and funding partnerships to achieve its goals.

“Housing is an issue that touches every Mississauga resident and business,” said Mayor Bonnie Crombie. “Council has already endorsed in-principle, actions to protect existing rental housing and create a housing-first policy for surplus lands. Making Room for the Middle: A Housing Strategy for Mississauga is the City’s plan to provide, together with our partners, a supportive development environment for a range of affordable housing.”

So, what has the city proposed?

  • Petition senior levels of government for taxation policies and credits that incent affordable housing
  • Pilot tools such as pre-zoning and a Development Permit System to develop affordable housing in appropriate locations (close to transit systems, for example)
  • Encourage the Region of Peel to develop an inclusionary zoning incentive program for private and nonprofit developers
  • Continue to engage with housing development stakeholders
  • Encourage the Region of Peel to investigate the cost of deferring development charges on the portion of affordable units provided in newly constructed multiple dwellings

The city has also been working to legalize accessory units (better known as basement apartments). At this juncture, basement suites remain a very viable option for people looking for affordable units, as the suites tend to cost $1,000 or less. Right now, most units remain unregistered and the city is responsible for levying fines against landlords operating unregulated units.

“Making Room for the Middle: A Housing Strategy for Mississauga defines how the City of Mississauga will address the affordable housing crisis in our City,” said Crombie in a statement. “We’re ready to do our part to ensure that those who want to live in Mississauga can afford to do so. The strategy provides bold, innovative solutions to increasing affordability. Safe, affordable housing is a pillar of a complete city and we will achieve our goals if we work together with our partners to create a supportive development environment for a range of affordable housing for all.”

According to the staff report, the strategy has received wide support since its release on March 29 from residents, agency partners and the building and development industry.

Speaking of the development industry, it appears that one affordable housing project is already in the works.

A few weeks ago, we learned that a brand new building development has been planned for the City Centre area.

The Daniels Corporation, the development firm who has built multiple properties in the City Centre and Erin Mills Town Centre areas in the city, is slated to construct an affordable housing project at 360 City Centre Drive.

Since this building will help the city fulfill its mandate, council will a provide a sizeable $2.7 million to the Region of Peel to offset development charges for the project.

The Region approved funding of the much-needed project to the tune of $65 million ($65,966,522, to be exact) on June 22. After approving funding, the Region asked Mississauga to “consider granting relief from City Development Charges (the aforementioned $2.7 million) by waiving or providing a grand to offset such DCs.”

As for how the development will work, 40 per cent of the units (70 in total) will be Rent Geared to Income suites. These units will take residents off affordable housing waitlist. The city also says that 60 per cent (or 104 units) will be set aside for renters and owned by the Region. They will be available to middle-class residents.

A second tower on the same podium will boast market-value units, creating a mixed-income property on City Centre grounds.

The movement of the affordable housing strategy is encouraging, especially since the city has been working to build consensus for sometime now.

The Mississauga Housing Forum held last spring enabled stakeholders to hear from renowned housing experts, “road test’ the strategy and provide their input. City staff say they have since have fine-tuned the strategy based on the feedback received.

“We heard from our residents and stakeholders and are taking action,” said Ed Sajecki, commissioner of planning and building. “Our strategy reflects the input we received. We can now create, together with our partners, a housing affordability solution that could be a model for other Canadian cities.”

The city says the next steps include actions to help preserve purpose-built rental housing, support for the Region of Peel in implementing its programs, and ongoing work with senior levels of government to make their surplus land available for affordable housing and provide standardized local housing data to measure housing affordability.

The final strategy will go to Council for approval on October 25.

 
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