Oliver Heights ‘attainable’ housing

Oliver Heights ‘attainable’ housing

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This is in response to a letter to the editor from Shawn Hathaway in the August 23 edition of the Oliver Chronicle. The letter referenced a story which appeared in the August 14th Oliver Chronicle entitled “Oliver Heights developer to build attainable housing community.” In the story, Oliver Landing senior project manager David Perehudoff stipulated the goal of the development was to keep single family homes under $300,000.

In fact, when the Oliver Heights development, located on Princess Place, materializes in the next few months, the single family homes on view lots will go to market starting in the $227,000 range.

In his letter, Mr. Hathaway asked, “When did $300,000 become affordable housing?” It seems there was some misunderstanding of semantics.

We have never indicated we are building “affordable housing.” Instead, we have promoted the fact that we are building “attainable housing” which is targeted toward younger working families, first-time buyers and retirees. Our goal is to make home ownership attainable; freeing people from the rental cycle and into home ownership.

The 21 acres will be developed over many phases, and will offer various home sizes and lot options for buyers and pricing to accommodate the market’s requirements.

Affordable housing is defined by the Town of Oliver and CMHC as housing that is affordable to households earning the average median income and spending no more than 30 per cent of their gross household income on housing (mortgage, insurance, strata fees, taxes, and utilities).

According to the median income 2015 statistics for BC, the average couple household earns just over $86,000, leaving them $2,154 available for housing, if they spend no more than 30 per cent of their gross household income.

As a review of mortgage payments versus home values; a $300,000 mortgage over 25 years at 4.59 per cent at a 10-year fixed term results in a monthly mortgage payment of $1,675. A $200,000 mortgage, a closer scenario given our starting prices at Oliver Heights, over 30 years at 2.5 per cent with a five-year variable rate results in a monthly mortgage payment of $790.

The Town of Osoyoos recently developed its Near-Market Housing (NMAH) Program. According to its information sheet, this program is designed to deliver lower cost affordable homes at a subsidized discount of 15 per cent below comparable market housing for purchase by qualified applicants wishing to get into the housing market.

Two units have been made available through this program at the new Meadowlark Place subdivision along Highway 97, just south of the new fire hall.

When completed, prices are expected to be in the low $400,000s. Subtract the 15 per cent discount as part of the NMAH Program, and the purchaser will still be required to mortgage in the range of $350,000. Again, this program bills itself as delivering “low cost affordable homes.”

In addition to offering price points that are ‘attainable’ or within reach of potential buyers we will be partnering with a non-profit society called the Attainable Housing Association of BC. The society is currently being set up and will partner with developers to help moderate income individuals and families qualify to purchase an entry level home. To qualify as a candidate of the program there is a series of requirements that must be met. Both developments; Oliver Landing and Oliver Heights’ goal is to offer unique home designs, on both riverfront and view lot properties, at a price point which is attainable to moderate income home buyers.

So to address Shawn Hathaway’s statements, Oliver Heights development’s phase one will all be within the “affordable housing” definition as stated by the Town of Oliver and CMHC.

Oliver Heights Development Corporation

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