What is affordable housing?

The term ‘affordable housing’ is used in many different ways. One definition is ‘housing that costs 30% or less of a household’s income.’ According to the Bowen Island Needs Assessment, the 2006 median household income was $74,000. However, an annual income of $85,000 – $100,000 was needed to purchase an entry level home on Bowen, and the median price was $613,000. Thus, there is a significant gap in housing (of $348,000 in 2006 dollars) for those who cannot afford to purchase a home at market prices.
Affordable housing may also refer to residential dwelling units that are rented or sold at a price that is not set by market forces but established and controlled over time by some other means. On Bowen, it could be housing that may only be owned or rented under the terms of housing covenants registered on title in favour of the Bowen Island Municipality. This type of affordable housing is produced and delivered below market price, but does not require a subsidy.

What is “perpetually” affordable housing?

Perpetually affordable housing is housing that is affordable in perpetuity, not just for a period of time. For example, purchasers buy a starter home at below-market prices. When they wish to sell, they must do so at a price set by a formula determined at the outset, usually related to inflation. A legal mechanism is in place to ensure that the units are protected from market price increases, thereby ensuring that this housing remains an important community resource. This type of affordable housing is in contrast to many programs that aim to produce housing for purchase below-market, without ensuring that the same benefit is available to future buyers who also are unable to afford market prices.

Who will build Bowen’s affordable housing? 

This type of affordable housing will be built by a developer as part of a housing development, under the Municipality’s Affordable Housing Policy #08-03. There is no risk because there will be a pool of buyers on the waitlist. There is no profit incentive in building this type of housing.

Who determines the cost of the affordable housing units?

Usually, the price is negotiated on a project-by-project basis, and based solely the building cost.

What will the affordable housing  units look like?

It will look like the other housing in the development. The size of the units will vary depending on the needs of the qualified applicants on the waitlist. It could include a number of types of housing including single homes, co-housing, townhouses, studios, one-two-three bedroom units, duplexes. The size of the housing could range from 500 – 1500 square feet. The type of development could include community land trusts, co-op housing or co-housing.

Where will it be created?

Generally, where possible, units will be constructed within walking distance of Snug Cove, possibility within the municipally-owned community lands. The goal is to create a diverse inventory that gives people some options, but where possible be within walking distance to major amenities, services and near transit.

When will it be created?

This type of affordable housing depends on new housing developments initiated by the private sector. In a small community like Bowen Island, this is not possible to predict.

What will the affordable housing units cost? 

The price of the units will depend on the construction costs at the time of the development. As an example: at an approximate cost of $235 per square foot, a typical one-bedroom unit at 600 square feet would cost $140,000,  a two-bedroom unit at 900 square feet, would cost $211,500, and a 3-bedroom unit at 1200 square feet would cost $282,000.

Will the units have a resale price cap?

An initial sale price will be set and the unit sold. That initial sale price will appreciate at the core Consumer Price Index. The intention is to pass the affordability onto future purchasers.

Who will be able to purchase affordable housing on Bowen?

Members of our community such as residents, those employed here, retirees, and  young adults who wish to buy and have the means for purchasing a home will be welcome to register for the purchase of affordable housing units.