Wall plans to sell off low-income housing?

Wall plans to sell off low-income housing?

Postby Oscar » Fri Aug 04, 2017 5:26 pm

NDP asks about province's plans to sell off low-income housing

[ http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/saskatoon ... -1.4116713 ]

Opposition wants to know how many units being sold

CBC News Posted: May 16, 2017 5:00 AM CT Last Updated: May 16, 2017 5:00 AM CT

Saskatchewan's Opposition wants to know if the government is looking to sell off low-income housing units to help balance its books.

The government owns about 18,000 units through the Saskatchewan Housing Corporation.

According to officials, it has been government policy to sell units which have been vacant for at least six months and are deemed to no longer be needed.

NDP urges caution


But Saskatchewan NDP MLA Ryan Meili says the government should be cautious before selling too many units.

At the legislature on Monday, Meili said it could be difficult to get back any housing that is sold, adding that markets and public needs change.

"We might have a period of vacancy right now, that doesn't necessarily mean that will persist," said Meili.

"And it also takes away the flexibility of doing anything more interesting with housing, like housing first projects."

'Chronic vacancies' in some areas, says minister

The government said 600 units have been sold since 2003, adding that housing that is no longer needed is sold at fair market value.

Social Services Minister Tina Beaudry-Mellor said there were "chronic vacancies" in some rural Saskatchewan communities with less than 300 people.

"Those are some that we will look at selling, if we can sell them at all," said Beaudry-Mellor.

"But we would certainly like, if they are going to be chronically vacant as they continue to be, we'd like to get rid of those for sure."

Some units could be repurposed

She added that the government was also considering repurposing some of its units.

The province has also been approached by municipalities that want to expand the criteria attached to the housing so it can be opened up for professionals such as nurses or teachers, said Beaudry-Mellor.

She said she did not have a number for how many of the 18,000 units the government might want to sell.

"We're looking at the whole portfolio and seeing if there's potential there to right-size, repurpose, refocus," said Beaudry-Mellor.

= = = = =

Low-income housing units in Saskatchewan could be for sale

[ http://globalnews.ca/news/3456881/low-i ... -for-sale/ ]

By Jules Knox Reporter/Anchor Global News May 16, 2017

There could be “for sale” signs outside some low-income housing units soon. The government is considering selling some of its stock.

“We’re looking at the whole portfolio and seeing if there’s potential to right size, repurpose, refocus on certain types of people that we’re looking at,” Social Services Minister Tina Beaudry-Mellor said.

The units are managed by Saskatchewan Housing, a Crown Corporation. The opposition called the possible plan another fire sale.

“Whether it’s selling off Crown land, selling off Crown corporations…it’s the Sask Party’s solution to everything. Now we hear that they’re looking to sell a $100 million worth of assets from the Saskatchewan Housing Corporation,” housing critic Ryan Meili said during question period on Monday.

Beaudry-Mellor said everything is under review, and no decisions have been made.

Many units were purchased when vacancy rates in Regina and Saskatoon were low, but that’s since changed, she said.

The ministry is making units that have been vacant for more than six months a top priority.

“If we have chronic vacancies in our communities under 300 people, you know that’s an expense for government that we don’t necessarily need,” she said.

Beaudry-Mellor said the ministry is looking at repurposing units as potential receiving spaces for kids in need. She added some communities with housing shortages had expressed interest in housing nurses or teachers in the units.

“All those things are in the mix right now,” she said.

Anti-poverty advocate Peter Gilmer wants to see more social housing, not less. He called the possible sell-off a short-term solution.

“Any cut to any social housing unit right now is a bad idea because it is so essential for so many low income individuals and families,” he said.

“Any properties that that are sold off are not likely to get bought back, and we really need all those properties,” he said, adding that vacancy rates are often cyclical.

“It wasn’t that long ago that we had a vacancy rate in Regina that was less than one half of one per cent or about 90 vacant units for the entire city.”

The government said surplus units are sold at fair value.

More than 600 units have been sold since 2003.
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Re: Wall plans to sell off low-income housing?

Postby Oscar » Fri Aug 04, 2017 5:28 pm

'Really bothered about this': Potential sale of gov't-run low-income housing units raises concern

[ http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/saskatche ... -1.4233185 ]

Province says social housing rental rates would still apply if properties sold

By Stephanie Taylor, CBC News Posted: Aug 03, 2017 5:00 AM CT| Last Updated: Aug 03, 2017 11:10 AM CT

The province is considering selling off some of its low-income housing units —a move that bothers some Saskatchewan residents.

According to an email sent Wednesday by Kathy Young, a spokesperson for Premier Brad Wall, the province regularly evaluates its stock of low-income housing units managed by Saskatchewan Housing Corporation.

The government owns about 18,000 low-income units through the corporation. It has sold more than 650 units since 2003.

"Prior to divesting, we will first initiate conversations with local housing authorities and municipalities, and then, as soon as possible, meet with any tenants," Young's email states.

Fred Dulmage, a resident of Lemberg, Sask., said his mother-in-law lives in one of the senior complexes that could be up for sale.

"I am really bothered about this. I think government sort of takes advantage of people in rural Saskatchewan you know, people don't really know what's going on right now," he said.

"A lot of these seniors that are in there, they don't understand what's going on."

He said he heard whispers about the potential sale of these properties months ago, but was informed that a representative from the corporation recently addressed the town council on the issue.

In her email, Young said the province in talks with municipalities and local housing authorities "to discuss opportunities for them" in regards to the properties.

Rents won't rise

Young said if a building is sold into private hands, the new owner would have to uphold the existing tenancy agreements.

She also said the price of rent would remain the same for current tenants covered by the provincial social housing rate, which is 30 per cent of their income.

Dulmage doesn't buy that.

"If you believe that, I've got some sea-side land in Arizona I'll sell you," he said.

"What private entity's going to come in under those kind of conditions?" Say you're investing money in a corporation like this or senior complexes, hundreds of thousands of dollars, possibly into the millions and you're restricted on not making a profit — I don't think that works in a free enterprise society."

Vacancies targeted

The province also says tenants will not be evicted and only vacant buildings which don't meet safety requirement could be demolished.

Social Services Minister Tina Beaudry-Mellor previously said there were "chronic vacancies" in some rural communities with less than 300 people, adding those complexes would be the focus of potential sales.

Cash grab

The NDP called the province's potential sale of low-income units a cash grab by the Sask. Party government that could evict seniors from their homes.

It also criticized the government for attempting to offload these units onto municipalities by inquiring about opportunities to buy them.

"They're looking under every possible rock they can to find enough dollars to prop up the budget to make it look good in 2020," said Dulmage.

Dulmage said tenants in his mother-in-law's complex are set to discuss the issue with an official from the province Thursday, but he hopes the idea will be scraped altogether.
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Re: Wall plans to sell off low-income housing?

Postby Oscar » Fri Aug 04, 2017 5:37 pm

Changes coming to Sask. subsidized housing

[ http://globalnews.ca/news/1787620/chang ... d-housing/ ]

January 22, 2015 5:56 pm Updated: January 23, 2015 10:59 am By Mike McKinnon Global News

REGINA – Some Saskatchewan residents living in affordable housing don’t actually need it, according to Social Services.

Now the provincial government is changing the rules in hopes some of those people move on to the private housing market.

On Thursday, the Saskatchewan Housing Corporation introduced a transition of what’s known as ‘affordable housing’ into the ‘social housing’ system.

Criteria for new applicants is based on income and safety of current living arrangements, compared to just how much money an applicant makes.

Tenants previously under the affordable housing banner will now have their rent recalculated based on 30 per cent of their income, adjusted for factors such as household size, rather than just a fixed monthly rate.

One reason for the changes? The government believes about 600 families, or 20 per cent of affordable housing clients, can afford housing on their own.

A small number of them are making more than $100,000 per year and still having their rent subsidized.

“I’m not sure how you can justify why the taxpayer should supply subsidized housing for higher income individuals and families that can afford the private market,” said Social Services Minister Donna Harpauer.

Opposition critics believe combining the two wait lists for social and affordable housing is a bad idea and could result in more people becoming the “working poor” – or those making minimum wage who are not considered vulnerable members of society.

David Forbes, NDP social services critic, said social housing used to be more clearly defined.

“This was for the very poor and those fleeing domestic abuse, that type of thing, a clear message about what social housing was for,” Forbes said. “Affordable housing filled a gap just above that. Now the signal is that we’re walking away from that.”

The changes impact about 2,700 households – half of which may see their rent go up.
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Re: Wall plans to sell off low-income housing?

Postby Oscar » Fri Aug 04, 2017 7:36 pm

Saskatchewan and federal government announce $74.1 million affordable housing strategy

[ http://globalnews.ca/news/2810852/saska ... -strategy/ ]

David Baxter joined the Global Regina news team in August 2015. By David Baxter Reporter Global News July 7, 2016

Provincial Social Services Minister Donna Harpauer and Regina-Wascana MP Ralph Goodale signed a partnership today to invest $74.1 million in affordable housing.

The two-year deal will focus on supporting affordable housing for seniors, building and renovating transition houses for people escaping family violence, repairs, and improving energy and water efficiency at existing complexes.

Goodale said this will be a “very significant upgrade” to what’s available, and housing is one of the most common issues he hears about when talking with constituents.

“An investment that is very focused and concentrated in a two-year period to make a very real difference is something that’s valuable, it’s timely, and it’s relevant to the day to day needs of people,” Goodale said.

Senior’s housing will receive $7.7 million, $3.8 million will go toward construction and renovation of domestic violence shelters, and $24 million will go to making social housing units more eco-friendly and other repairs.

‘We’ve had a number of years where the availability of housing was of extreme concern in our province, but now we’re re-focusing the Saskatchewan Housing Corporation on affordability and services for those most vulnerable,” Harpauer said.

“Housing is going to be a key response to our strategies; The Disabilities Strategy, the Mental Health and Addictions Action Plan, as well as the Poverty Reduction Strategy.”
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