Council to mull cash incentives for affordable housing
City politicians today will debate whether the city should offer cash incentives to builders and homeowners to create affordable housing in new developments as well as in existing homes.
Two proposed affordable housing programs would offer loans of up to $20,000 per unit when a developer builds a new project or when a homeowner converts a part of their house into an apartment.
“We have been talking about the idea of inclusionary zoning, and talked about it and talked about it and talked about it, and to see the city fund this now is great,” said Abe Oudshoorn, a housing advocate and former chairperson of the London Homeless Coalition.
“There is value in having affordability integrated into different types of buildings.”
Oudshoorn said he’s pleased the initiatives don’t rely on other levels of government for support. “If we can make funds available and make this happen when the province is lagging, that is great.”
The city would offer developers interest-free loans from $10,000 to $20,000 depending on the units, in three installments based on phases of construction: when a permit is issued, when a building is framed and when it is ready for occupancy.
Homeowners would get an interest-free loan that has to be repaid over 10 years.
Affordable housing means residents pay a rent that is a percentage of market rents, usually ranging from 70 to 90 per cent.
“This is not how we are going to solve homelessness. This is one tool in the toolbox,” said Coun. Maureen Cassidy, chairperson of the planning and environment committee.
If approved by council, the plan would go to budget talks to determine how much money will be available for the loans.
Mike Wallace, director of the London Development Institute, said the development community supports the plan. “We are certainly in favour . . . We hope it is taken up by the public.”
He added politicians should make the program “simple to apply for, simple to be approved and make it happen quickly.”
But at the recent planning and environment committee meeting, one person in the gallery reminded politicians the greatest need is for rent geared to income, not affordable housing.
“This will not make homes affordable for those making less than $39,000 a year,” the person said.
“We are not addressing the core need.”