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Yukon NDP calls home ownership loan program a failure with only 1 approved applicant

Same program gets a mention in the confidence and supply agreement under another name
Yukon NDP MLA for Whitehorse Centre Lane Tredger is photographed after speaking with reporters in the lobby of the legislature on Oct. 4. (Dana Hatherly/Yukon News)

A loan program that is intended to help Yukoners buy or build a home when they don’t qualify for a mortgage through the bank but has only approved one applicant is a failure, according to the Yukon NDP housing critic.

A spokesperson for the Yukon Housing Corporation confirmed by email that 40 applications have been received, with only one approval for the home ownership loan program. Twenty-five of those applications have been denied and 14 have been cancelled by applicants. The lone approved applicant later cancelled their application.

“The reasons applications are cancelled vary; sometimes households decide not to proceed or complete applications. The primary reason applications were denied is related to applicants’ high household debt levels that places them at risk of loan default,” reads the email.

Yukon NDP MLA for Whitehorse Centre Lane Tredger asked about the program in the Yukon Legislative Assembly on Nov. 15.

The confidence and supply agreement, commonly known as CASA, signed by the Yukon NDP and the governing Yukon Liberal Party calls for expanding the “eligibility of the Yukon Housing Corporation home building loan program to Whitehorse residents.” Both parties confirmed the CASA commitment actually refers to the home ownership loan program.

That commitment has been fulfilled.

Now the Yukon NDP wants to know what’s being done to fix the program.

Minister John Streicker responded on behalf of Premier Ranj Pillai, who is responsible for the housing file and was away ill. Streicker didn’t indicate what is being fixed or that anything needs to be fixed. He noted the program, which previously only applied to rural Yukon, has been expanded to Whitehorse.

Tredger questioned the eligibility process and offered their version of a potential solution.

“It’s getting to the point where builders and realtors don’t want to sell to people who plan to use the home ownership program, because it’s not worth the trouble,” they said.

“It would make a lot more sense and save everyone a lot of work if applications could be pre-approved through the Yukon home ownership [loan] program, just like other people are pre-approved through banks. This would be a short-term fix while Yukon Housing [Corporation] redesigns the program, but it would save a lot of people a lot of grief.”

Streicker said he would pass the questions onto Pillai. Streicker noted there are thresholds in place.

“I don’t know the details that the member opposite is raising, but I do know that the [Yukon] Housing Corporation has as its underlying philosophy to support Yukoners and to help them with home ownership,” he said.

Eligibility requires residing in the Yukon for at least 90 days, building or buying one’s primary residence, falling within Yukon Housing Corporation’s debt-to-loan ratios, having a bank decline one’s buy or build application and having a 2.5 per cent down payment and closing costs. Builders and buyers can build or buy on titled lots or First Nations land, depending on their agreements with Yukon First Nations.

For building loans, construction must be completed within two years.

Making a purchase or starting a build before getting approved may rule out an applicant.

There is an amortization period of up to 30 years in five-year terms, interest-only payments during the construction period for building loans and the interest rate is one per cent below the average posted five-year mortgage rate at the major banks.

“As a standard lending practice, Yukon Housing Corporation uses debt-to-service ratios as an assessment tool for our lending programs. This is to ensure that households can afford their mortgage with us,” reads the email from the housing corporation.

“We do not want to put households at risk of default. This established practice has always been a critical component of the corporation’s programs. In 2018, as a result of Yukon Housing Corporation’s review of the home ownership [loan] program included an increase to the debt-service ratio from 40 per cent to 42 per cent.”

The second intake of program applications closed on Sept. 5.

Editor’s note: The Yukon Housing Corporation incorrectly said by email that 39 applications had been recieved. A spokesperson for the housing corporation later confirmed that, in fact, 40 applications had been recieved.

Contact Dana Hatherly at

Dana Hatherly

About the Author: Dana Hatherly

I’m the legislative reporter for the Yukon News.
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