Windsor's real estate most affordable in Canada
If you’re looking to buy a home in Canada, there’s no cheaper place than Windsor, a new study says.
Real estate firm Coldwell Banker surveyed listings in 75 Canadian markets, and found Windsor is the most affordable. It was the only market in Canada where the average four-bedroom, two-bathroom home cost less than $200,000.
Although some might argue that rock-bottom prices are a reflection of the region’s economic woes, others see a silver lining.
“Affordable housing can give you that jumpstart,” says Coldwell Banker Canada president John Geha. “This is a great opportunity to continue the development of who Windsor is.”
Geha, who grew up in Ohio, but now lives in Burlington, is adamant that Windsor has a bright future, and says cheap real estate will attract new families, small businesses and even retirees to the area.
“You don’t build an international bridge and a major parkway unless you see growth opportunities,” he said.
The average price of what Coldwell Banker calls “aspirational homes” in Windsor was $170,991. Although cheap for Canada, Windsor’s prices were still lofty compared to some U.S. markets, particularly those across the river.
In Detroit, for example, the same home would cost a mere $65,155.
To read the full story: http://metronews.ca/news/windsor/458594/windsors-real-estate-most-affordable-in-canada/
Container housing project slated for Vancouver
Shipping containers that likely would have been left to rust in Vancouver will instead be used to construct the first housing project of its kind in Canada.
Twelve containers will be converted into social and affordable housing for women in the city's Downtown Eastside, where construction got underway Friday.
The project that's slated to be completed by next April was developed by the Atira Women's Resource society, which bought a lot in 2009 to build traditional housing.
Atira CEO Janice Abbott says that changed the following year when the society submitted a winning proposal to BC Hydro, which was giving away two shipping containers to a non-profit group.
Two more shipping containers were donated, and Atira bought another eight from the Port of Vancouver.
Abbott says six of the 12 units will be occupied by women over age 55 at $375 a month in rent while the rest will be for younger women who will pay about 30 per cent of market rent.
"What we hope is to set up an intergenerational program," Abbott said. "We have housing for young women next door and we'd like to set up mentoring relationships between them."
The 320-square-foot containers would be stacked three high and each would have a private bathroom, kitchen and in-suite laundry. Floor-to-ceiling windows would be at each end and each floor would be linked by an external staircase.
To read the full story: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/story/2012/11/30/bc-container-homes.html
Vancouver mayor says mixed-income housing key to city's future success
Darah, Hansen Vancouver Sun
It was the proximity of family and a job offer her husband just couldn’t refuse that ultimately convinced American lawyer and new mom April Mackoff to trade in her home in Washington D.C. for British Columbia’s West Coast seven months ago.
It certainly wasn’t the cost of housing.
Vancouver’s real-estate market is so expensive compared to what they were leaving behind, the couple hesitated before agreeing to the move.
“In the suburbs of Washington, for a million dollars, you can get a very nice home. Here, if you want something, particularly on the west side, you’re going to be lucky to get a teardown,” Mackoff said, noting the difficulty of finding an affordable option that could also accommodate her growing family.
“We have one child and in the future may have another, so, for us, it would be very hard to be living with two kids in 1,000 square feet,” she said.
Mackoff was among the hundreds of representatives of B.C.’s real-estate industry who came out Tuesday to an Urban Land Institute luncheon where Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson delivered a speech addressing the future of housing in the city, as well as a host of pressing urban issues from rapid transit to Vancouver’s place in the global economy.
Reflecting an ongoing theme in the ULI’s speaker series: The City in 2050: Creating Blueprints for Change, Robertson talked of the urgent need to invest in affordable housing — rental housing in particular — to ensure the city “moves beyond the precipice that we are on right now.”
“The price of housing is unthinkable from 38 years ago to now,” he said.
Robertson drew attention to city council’s recently passed affordable housing strategy designed to help low- to middle-income earners afford to stay in the city, rather than being forced to the suburbs by the high cost of living.
Condos become affordable housing for seniors
Jennifer Brown, Toronto Star
Otto Friedman loves his new one-bedroom apartment and the possibilities living in an all-seniors community has to offer.
For Friedman, a 78-year-old retired hotel manager who was living at Yonge and Eglinton, the affordable housing complex he moved into on Oct. 22 at Patricia Ave. is more than just a new place to call home — it also represents a sense of comfort about his future.
For some time Friedman had been looking for somewhere a little more affordable to live. When he heard about the Patricia Senior Living Centre, he says he jumped at the chance to move to a new building and a new way of life.
“I absolutely love it,” he says of his one-bedroom plus den unit. “It reminds me of the beautiful hotel suites I used to manage when I was in the hotel industry. Everything is new and fresh.”
Friedman, who came to Canada from Hungary in 1948 after surviving the Holocaust, had been looking for something that would give him some financial flexibility, should he need it as he ages.
“That’s why I put my name forward and was the main attraction to me in coming here. I’m not paying a lot less than I was before — it’s a difference of about $100 a month — but if something happens to my income they will make adjustments, which is a great benefit,” he says.
The Patricia Senior Living Centre is a 10-storey building located at 485 Patricia Ave., near Bathurst St. and Finch Ave. W. The new development is providing 237 affordable rental units for seniors and people with disabilities. The building includes 167 one-bedroom and 70 two-bedroom apartments. There are 36 apartments designed for those with disabilities.
The $55.6 million project is funded in part by federal, provincial and municipal governments, along with its community partner, B’nai Brith Canada (bnaibrith.ca).
To read the full article: http://www.yourhome.ca/homes/newsfeatures/article/1288408--condos-become-affordable-housing-for-seniors#
New Retirement Home Licensing in Ontario
The Ontario government created the Retirement Homes Regulation Authority (RHRA) as an independent not for profit corporation under the Retirement Homes Act 2010 to regulate and oversee the retirement home sector.
For the first time in the province, retirement homes will now need to be licensed and will be subject to regular inspections carried out by the RHRA. Retirement homes should not be confused with long-term care homes (often referred to as nursing homes), which are fully government funded and regulated, by the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care. Retirement homes are operated independently and fees are charged to the residents directly for services.
The RHRA’s role is to license the over 700 retirement homes in the province that are home to approximately 40,000 seniors. They will maintain a register of all licensed homes and conduct regular inspections, overseeing compliance and enforcing the legislation of the Act.
Included in the RHRA’s mandate is a Residents’ Bill of Rights. This document is aimed at informing residents of their rights while living in homes licensed by the RHRA – it is a requirement of the license that it be posted in a public place accessible to all residents.
The Residents’ Bill of Rights includes:
- The right to know what care services are provided and how much they cost
- The right to be informed before fees for a care service(s) are increased
- The right to receive notice before a care service(s) is discontinued
- The right to give or refuse informed consent to any treatment, care or service where consent is required by law
- The right to privacy during treatment and care
- The right to live in a safe and clean environment with dignity and respect
- The right to have lifestyle choices respected, and
- The right to raise concerns or recommend changes in policies and services without fear of coercion, discrimination or reprisal.
Residents can file a complaint with the RHRA if they have any concerns or complaints about their care or the condition of their residence.
However, this new watchdog does not come without a cost. Each residence is being charged $9 plus HST ($10.17) per month per suite. For larger homes, this quickly adds up to a sizable amount of money. Unfortunately in many cases this charge is either being passed on to the residents or is resulting in a reduction of services. For many seniors already on fixed incomes and with tight budgets this additional charge is challenging.
Whether the new agency will prove to increase protection and improve conditions for seniors living in retirement homes remains to be seen and opinions, even among seniors living in retirement homes, are divided as to whether the oversight – and related costs - is necessary.
For more information on the RHRA, please see www.rhra.ca
The full Residents’ Bill of Rights can be found at http://www.rhra.ca/assets/en/pdf/Factsheet-Residents-Bill-of-Rights-AprFinal.pdf
Affordable Housing Canada: Housing Boom, Government Cutbacks Create Rent Squeeze
Rachel Mendleson, Huffington Post
Rosie Da Silva feels like she has been “living on quicksand” for the past year, her future in the hands of politicians and bureaucrats with the power to uproot her on a whim.
The instability set in last fall, when in the midst of an austerity push at Toronto City Hall, Toronto Community Housing Corp. (TCHC), Canada’s largest social housing provider, proposed selling 872 of the single-family homes it operates to help it address its daunting $751-million repair backlog. Endorsed by Mayor Rob Ford, the unprecedented idea has threatened to put on the chopping block 619 occupied houses scattered in neighbourhoods across Toronto, where prices have skyrocketed in recent years.
Among those houses is Da Silva’s three-bedroom semi-detached in a leafy, residential block in Toronto’s east end, where the 66-year-old receptionist has lived with her family since 1981.
After receiving word of the news, she said, “People were furious. They were really angry.”
Da Silva, who has developed strong relationships with her neighbours and has added handmade flower boxes to her front porch, is worried about losing everything she has built.
“We have been in a state of readiness, anticipating a possible move. So how does that feel?” she said.
Their anger did not go unnoticed.
In March, following a tenant-led campaign to prevent the mass sell-off, council voted to create a working group to find alternative solutions to TCHC’s funding problem. On Tuesday,the group’s recommendations, which include maintaining 564 of the occupied homes as affordable housing while supporting those who wish to transition to ownership, will be presented to the mayor’s executive committee. (The working group recommends that TCHC proceed with the sale of 55 stand-alone properties valued at more than $600,000.)
“It’s a far cry from where we were in October of last year,” Da Silva said. “I’m hoping that it gets through.”
The drama unfolding in Toronto is part of a larger trend playing out in many major Canadian cities, where a growing body of evidence suggests that it has become harder for low-income households to put a roof over their heads.
To read the full article: http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/10/04/affordable-housing-canada-rent-squeeze_n_1938852.html
Vancouver affordable housing strategy aims to add rental units, ease rates
Darah Hansen, Vancouver Sun
Renters could be among the first to feel the effects of a city housing strategy that aims to make Vancouver more affordable for low and middle-income earners.
Coun. Geoff Meggs, who served as council liaison on an 18-member task force formed last December to examine the affordability issue, said he’s optimistic rental prices in the city will ease over the next year or two as more rental units become available.
“It may not be enough to resolve some of the issues out there, but it would be great if we saw our vacancy rates creep up a little bit so that our rents were more modest and people have more access to newer buildings,” he said.
City council is set to vote on a staff report Tuesday that outlines priority steps to put recommendations made by the task force into action.
The strategy calls for increased housing density, including condominiums, apartments, townhomes and row housing, along major arterial roads across the city, including Main Street, Dunbar, Fraser and Hastings.
The city will also consider piloting three so-called “thin streets” projects in the West End, Grandview-Woodland and Marpole, all of which are undergoing a community planning process.
Meggs said residents of the three communities under consideration for a trial project will have an opportunity to share their thoughts on the concept over the next few months, with work potentially getting underway within a year and a half.
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