Government Housing Organization Says It Must ‘Do Better’ After Building Just 12 Homes in 8 Years

by EditorL

A realtor’s for sale sign stands outside a house that had been sold in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, May 27, 2021. REUTERS/Patrick Doyle

By Chandra Philip

The Canadian Mortgage and Housing Commission (CMHC), a Crown corporation, said that it must “do better” to improve the affordable housing situation after data shows one initiative resulted in just 12 homes in eight years.
The remark came during a Senate committee meeting on Oct. 26 where Sen. Pamela Wallin questioned Neil Levesque, vice president of operations for CMHC, about a program where Crown land was used to build homes.

She noted the program, which began in 2015, had aimed to build 672 homes in seven communities across the country, including Edmonton, Calgary, Sudbury, Ottawa, Sherbrooke, Halifax, and St. John’s. However, just 12 homes had been completed and they were all in the community of Sherbrooke, Quebec, Ms. Wallin told the committee.

“What takes so long when we know there is a lot of Crown land out there?” she asked.

“There has to be someone open and available to actually develop that property,” Mr. Levesque answered.

“There are times when those federal lands need to be remediated and that takes some time, and by remediated there could be other contaminations or constraints related to the property. That does take some time to address.”

Mr. Levesque added that they needed to have a partner open to developing the land.

Ms. Wallin pushed the issue, saying it was not a great record.

“We want to do better for sure,” Mr. Levesque said.

He also said the turnaround time to process applications was 51 days, calling it an improvement.

During the meeting, the chief economist for CMHC said that Canada needs 3.5 million more homes by 2030 to keep up with demand, which would cost about $1 trillion.

“It shows that the government alone can’t fix this problem,” Bob Dugan said. “We need to work closely with the private sector especially given that it supplies 96 percent of housing in Canada.”

Concerns Over Housing Affordability

Affordable housing has become a hot topic for the Liberal government.

CMHC data has shown that there were more mortgage defaults in the first part of 2023 than in all of 2022.
Between Jan. 1 and March 31, there were 3,081 mortgage arrears, which are considered payments that are 90 days past due, compared with 2,920 for all of 2022, according to information filed by CMHC in an Inquiry of Ministry on Sept. 18.
In a recent survey by Abacus Data, four in five Canadians had “overwhelming concerns” about the affordability of housing in the country. Researchers also found that 52 percent said their concerns had grown in recent months.

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