Osoyoos to sweeten affordable housing plan
By ROY WOOD
Osoyoos council is preparing to ease the conditions of sale for the affordable housing units in the new Meadowlark subdivision in order to spur what has been disappointing demand, ODN has learned.
Developer Hart Buckendahl of Ellcar Construction said in an interview this morning that town council will reduce the 20-year wait requirement before subsidized owners are allowed to sell a home at a profit.
The current rules – imposed by the town as conditions of the sale of the land to Buckendahl — say that owners may sell so-called “near-market” homes before 20 years has elapsed, but they may profit only up to the increase in the Consumer Price Index (CPI).
“We have a lot of people interested (in the near-market homes),“ said Buckendahl, “but they don’t want to be tied up for 20 years.
“But as soon as they hear there’s a change for the better they’ll be coming out of the woodwork and they’ll be fighting over it,” he said.
The developer said he doesn’t know the length of the time reduction but that it would be “substantial.”
Buckendahl said that as soon as council makes the changes in the rules, he will build the four units. The prices for the four near-market houses in the 27-home development are fixed at $380,000.
Town chief administrative officer Barry Romanko would not comment this morning because the issue has only been discussed “in camera” by council. The details will be made public at the May 22 council meeting, he said.
In an interview late last month, Romanko said addressing issues that have arisen about the near-market program was “on my list of things to do.”
“The program was put together with a sound theoretical base … but price points have changed as have the mortgage rules. … We have to revisit it to see what we can do about it,” he said.
“(But) it’s our program and it is in the bylaw … all we’d have to do is change the bylaw.”
Romanko conceded that the 20-year requirement has been met with criticism.
Buckendahl said the rest of the development is selling well. Eight homes have been sold and 10 are at various stages of completion.
“I’ve committed to the town that I will hold four houses at $380,000. And I’m swallowing deep on those four. But as a consequence, the others kind of make up for it a little … So on average, I’m still going to do OK, right? But four people will be very lucky,” he said.
The most expensive house – three storeys and about 3,000 square feet — will sell for about $540,000. On average, they will be in the mid-$400,000 range, Buckendahl said.
The development is west of Highway 97 just south of the new fire hall.