Gordon English, construction manager of Habitat for Humanity project in North Saanich, stands just off Bakerview Place near Lochside Drive, where the project is currently approaching completion. It will add 10 affordable housing units as part of 27-unit development. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)

Gordon English, construction manager of Habitat for Humanity project in North Saanich, stands just off Bakerview Place near Lochside Drive, where the project is currently approaching completion. It will add 10 affordable housing units as part of 27-unit development. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)

Families set to move in to affordable housing project in North Saanich by spring

Pending completion of Habitat for Humanity project comes against backdrop of new housing report

A townhouse project adding 10 affordable housing units in North Saanich is approaching completion.

Yolanda Meijer, chief executive officer of Habitat for Humanity Victoria, said her organization is excited about the progress behind the affordable housing project at Bakerview Place and Lochside Drive.

“We might even have some of the units ready for an occupancy permit in the next four weeks or so,” she said. “I think you will start seeing families in there, I would imagine in April, May.”

The project, which received North Saanich’s approval in the late summer of 2018, sees Habitat for Humanity partner with a private developer as part of a larger 27-unit housing development that has seen local developers Brian Berglund and John Berglund donate a piece of land valued at $1.2 million.

Partnerships like this one will enable future projects to happen, Meijer said. Habitat for Humanity is still looking for a family to move into the project’s accessible unit.

Ultimately, 10 families with at least one child under 10 years old will assume ownership of the townhouses, which Habitat sells to qualifying families at fair market value with no down payment required if the families cannot afford it. Mortgages are interest free and payments are assessed annually to be no more than 30 per cent of the family’s gross household income. Families must also have the ability to financially manage the mortgage and homeowner expenses, be willing to contribute 500 hours of volunteer service with Habitat and have a gross household annual income between $35,000 and $80,000 — depending on the number of bedrooms.

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Families soon moving into the homes have all shared the stress that has come from a lack of housing security, said Meijer. Some have also had to make compromises about the quality of their housing. “So they are all really excited about moving into homes that are suited to the sizes of their family.”

The vast majority of families moving into the homes are from the Saanich Peninsula, added Meijer, with some families currently living within walking distance of their new homes.

“This opportunity is just so amazing to all of them, because they are going to be able to fulfill a dream that they didn’t think was possible, which is to live in North Saanich and build equity and have housing security for their family,” she said.

The pending completion of the project comes against the backdrop of a new report that raises questions about North Saanich’s housing affordability.

“We don’t have a big impact in numbers, we have a profound impact on our families that are part of our program,” said Meijer. While having an affordable rental home is an “excellent thing,” the project gives families the “locus of control that comes with home-ownership.”

The report finds that most households in North Saanich – and especially families – cannot afford the most common type of housing in the community (single-detached homes) despite residents reporting significantly higher average incomes than the rest of the region.

“Based on the affordability threshold of housing costs being no more than 30 (per cent) of gross household income, single-detached homes and townhouses are out of reach for most households making the median income…,” it reads.

The report finds among other points that townhouses represent an affordable option for households with children, but notes that more than nine out of 10 housing unit are single-detached homes, the housing type out of reach for many households with children.

wolfgang.depner@peninsulanewsreview.com


 

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