Greens propose housing fix

The Yukon Green Party is floating its own solution to the Whitehorse housing crisis.

The Yukon Green Party is floating its own solution to the Whitehorse housing crisis.

To help residents who are unable to afford a downpayment to buy their first home, the fledgling party wants the territory to provide low-interest loans.

Part of the loan’s interest would be forgiven over an unspecified length of time. But, should the homebuyer move, sell or rent the home during this time, they’d be expected to repay the full amount.

Leader Kristina Calhoun admits that such a program wouldn’t address the root cause of Whitehorse’s dramatic increase in housing prices, which is a shortage in supply. But she reckons that the loans would help more renters become homeowners.

To be eligible for the program, you’d need to be a full-time Yukon resident and a renter seeking to buy your first home in a Yukon community where a housing shortage exists.

New homes built with government money would need to be energy efficient, said Calhoun.

She compares the initiative to the homesteading incentive offered by the territory in the 1980s for the Robinson subdivision.

Calhoun suggests the loan program could be funded with the $16.5 million remaining from a federal fund earmarked for affordable housing. So far, the territory’s allocated $1 million from the fund to help Kaushee’s Place develop plans to build second-stage housing for women fleeing violence.

The Liberals have rolled out their own housing plan, by promising to give renters a $600 tax break. They’d also double the homeowners’ grant, to $900, or $1,000 for seniors.

The Greens also want to change Yukon’s electoral system, from the current, first-past-the-post scheme to some form of proportional representation. “We’re all losers now, in this current system,” said Calhoun.

Calhoun is so far the only Green candidate to be named, although she says more are on the way “very soon.” She’s vying for Riverdale North, a seat that’s being vacated by the Yukon Party’s Ted Staffen.

The Yukon Party is running Scott Kent, a former Liberal cabinet minister. Christie Richardson, a mortgage broker, is representing the Liberals. The NDP nomination is being contested by Peter Lesniak, the party’s chief of staff, and David Blottner, executive director of the Whitehorse Boys and Girls Club.

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