Affordable housing plan offered little bang for buck

Affordable housing plan offered little bang for buck Most of the commentary I have read regarding the cancellation of the Yukon Housing Corporation's so-called "affordable housing" program has focused on what landlords see as the government's reckless i

Most of the commentary I have read regarding the cancellation of the Yukon Housing Corporation’s so-called “affordable housing” program has focused on what landlords see as the government’s reckless interference in the housing market and what affordable housing advocates see as the government’s abandonment of those who are in need of quality, affordable housing.

What is missing from this debate is any mention of what an outrageous giveaway of taxpayer money the now abandoned “affordable housing” program actually was. Details are fuzzy, but from what I can piece together from news reports and government press releases, the now-cancelled program would have resulted in $11.7 million dollars being given to a handful of developers to build somewhere between 75 and 130 units. The only string that was to be attached to the money was that the developers would have to rent the units out for 95 per cent of median market rent for 10 years.

So what would taxpayers get for their $11.7 million?

Reports have stated that median rent is somewhere around $900. If the developers are required to rent out the units for 95 per cent of market rate, then the taxpayers are essentially buying a $45 rent reduction per unit per month. $45 multiplied by 12 months a year multiplied by 10 years equals $5,400 in rent reduction per unit.

If this program resulted in 75 units being constructed (the more commonly cited figure) the total rent reduction would be a whopping $405,000. Even if this program resulted in 130 units being constructed (the highest estimate I have read) the total rent reduction would still only be about $702,000.

In other words, $11.7 million in spending that would lead to between $405,000 and $702,000 in savings. What a deal!

To top it off, there would be no guarantee that the properties would actually be rented to those who need subsidized housing and no obligations are imposed on the developers after the 10 years are up.

I understand that the analysis above is a little simplistic, and I appreciate that if we are going to have more affordable housing in Whitehorse the government may need to “sweeten the deal” to some extent to actually get the units constructed. After all, going into business as a residential landlord for lower cost units does not sound like a particularly lucrative investment.

But is it such a poor investment for private interests that it requires an $11 million sweetener? I find that a little hard to swallow.

So why give away the farm? It makes no sense to me why the government would undertake a major capital investment and the turn around and essentially give it away to private interests.

I know that we here in Lotus Land have grown accustomed to successive governments that make spending decisions without any real world cost-benefit analysis. But in this instance I think that government should go back to the drawing board and demand a little more bang for its buck.

Kyle Carruthers


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

During our recent conversation, John Nicholson showed me snapshots of his time working on the Yukon riverboats 70 years ago. (Michael Gates)
History Hunter: Yukon man relives the riverboat days after seven decades

John Nicholson took summer work on Yukon steamers in the 1950s

NDP candidate Annie Blake, left, and Liberal incumbent Pauline Frost. (Submitted photos)
Official recount confirms tie vote in Vuntut Gwitchin riding

Both candidates Pauline Frost and Annie Blake are still standing with 78 votes each

Artist’s rendering of a Dairy Queen drive-thru. At its April 13 meeting, Whitehorse city council approved a zoning change to allow a drive-thru at 107 Range Road. Developers sought the change to build a Dairy Queen there. (Submitted)
Drive-thru approved by Whitehorse city council at 107 Range Road

Rezoning could pave the way for a Dairy Queen


Wyatt’s World for April 14, 2021.… Continue reading

École Whitehorse Elementary Grade 7 students Yumi Traynor and Oscar Wolosewich participated in the Civix Student Vote in Whitehorse on April 12. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Yukon Student Vote chooses Yukon Party government; NDP take popular vote

The initiative is organized by national non-profit CIVIX

Yvonne Clarke is the newly elected Yukon Party MLA for Porter Creek Centre. (Submitted/Yukon Party)
Yvonne Clarke elected as first Filipina MLA in the Yukon Legislative Assembly

Clarke beat incumbent Liberal Paolo Gallina in Porter Creek Centre

Emily Tredger at NDP election night headquarters after winning the Whitehorse Centre riding. (Stephanie Waddell/Yukon News)
Emily Tredger takes Whitehorse Centre for NDP

MLA-elect ready to get to work in new role

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Two new cases of COVID-19 variant identified in territory

“If variants were to get out of control in the Yukon, the impact could be serious.”

Today’s Mailbox: Rent freezes and the youth vote

Dear Editor, I read the article regarding the recommendations by the Yukon… Continue reading

Point-in-Time homeless count planned this month

Volunteers will count those in shelters, short-term housing and without shelter in a 24-hour period.

The Yukon’s new ATIPP Act came into effect on April 1. Yukoners can submit ATIPP requests online or at the Legislative Assembly building. (Gabrielle Plonka/Yukon News file)
New ATIPP Act in effect as of April 1

The changes promise increased government transparency

A new conservancy in northern B.C. is adjacent to Mount Edziza Provincial Park. (Courtesy BC Parks)
Ice Mountain Lands near Telegraph Creek, B.C., granted conservancy protection

The conservancy is the first step in a multi-year Tahltan Stewardship Initiative

Most Read