Vancouver approves affordable home ownership program

Vancouver has approved a pilot program to help middle-income residents buy condos in the city.
Vancouver has approved a pilot program to help middle-income residents buy condos in the city. Credit: Joe Mabel/Flickr

Pilot program to sell homes to locals at below market value

You may have missed it in the avalanche of Vancouver real estate and (lack of) affordability stories, but the City of Vancouver recently approved a affordable home ownership program.

Here’s how the pilot program would work: The city would make deals with developers to purchase 20 per cent ownership of 300 new condo units.

The city would then sell those units to eligible buyers at a discounted price which would be below market value.

Buyers will need to have been a resident of Vancouver for at least the past five years.

At least one of the buyers must be employed within the city limits and must be a permanent resident or Canadian citizen.

First time buyers would get first dibs on studio and one bedroom units, and their income should not exceed $67,540 per year.

Buyers of two and three bedroom units should not have incomes exceeding $96,170 per year, and need to have at least one dependent child living at home in order to qualify.

Vancouver affordable homeownership program
Graphic from the City of Vancouver explaining how the program will work.

All buyers must have a minimum of five per cent downpayment, and are not allowed to rent the units out. They also will be required to complete a “home buyer education course.”

However, if you’re looking to move into one of these units and live downtown, don’t get your hopes up.

Vancouver affordable homeownership program
Units will be located outside of the downtown core, near local shopping areas and along arterial routes.

The city is looking to partner with developers building projects outside of the downtown core, likely because of the high land costs downtown.

The pilot program is based on similar programs around the world, including in Toronto, San Francisco, Boston, New York and the UK.

Whistler already has a very successful affordable home ownership program, run through the Whistler Housing Authority, which allows local residents employed in the community to buy homes at below market values. Over 900 units, ranging from studios to single family homes, are managed by the program.