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Housing

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NDP PEI is committed to making decent, accessible and affordable housing available throughout the Island, so that everyone can have a home which is appropriate to their circumstances.

Use public-sector investment and the strength of governmental building, ownership and management, incentives, taxation and regulation to make it happen, and help create vibrant and inclusive communities.

The current situation is critical, thousands of Islanders can’t get decent housing at an affordable price. Hundreds of lower-cost units have been lost over recent years, and many of the remaining ones suffer from unsafe, slum-like conditions.  Vacancy rates in many situations are near zero.  House and rental prices are being driven up.

Publicly supported, rent-geared-to-income accommodation is restricted to a fraction of the people who need it.  Many people are forced to cut down on groceries to pay the rent; others couch-surf, use shelters, and go back to living with parents.

“Our family just got evicted from our house. As it stands now you cannot

live in Charlottetown and be low-income anymore.” Megan D.

Private/profit development and rental supplements don’t work. Government housing policies of the past twenty years have failed.  Governments have tried to get private developers to build affordable units.It did not produce places to live.

The MacLauchlan Government’s 2018 ‘Housing Action Plan’ continues to rely on that failed strategy. It sets up a new bureaucracy, and promises rent supplements for renters.  That does not create new housing units. Subsidies don’t help much if there are no decent accommodations to move into; in fact they invite landlords to inflate rates.

What has proven itself in the past is that accommodation that is publicly built and managed tends to be decent, accessible, and affordable. That has been shown by provincial Housing Authority units, Habitat for Humanity homes, coops and municipal projects. With public not-for-profit management, mortgage or rental rates can be set according to a person’s capacity to pay: “affordable” means keeping it under 30% of before-tax income.

NDP MLAs will work to:

  • Implement publicly owned and operated housing that uses geared-to-income rental rates.
  • Implement a housing bank to acquire and protect land and buildings which can be used for public housing.
  • Apply a room tax (as for hotels) on short-term rentals (e.g. Airbnb);
  • Apply the provincial portion of HST (8 or 10% of charges) to short-term rentals;
  • Apply the commercial rate of tax to any operation (private home, small building) which gets used for short-term rental;
  • Produce a reformed immigrant-investor (PNP) program to allow newcomers to put their money into the equivalent of affordable-housing bonds.
  • Develop more efficient regulations (under the Rental of Residential Property Act) to assure quality construction, and upkeep of rental properties, and enforce the rules through robust inspection.
  • Design a reformed immigrant-investor (PNP) program to allow newcomers to put their money into the equivalent of affordable-housing bonds.

Public-sector led strategy

We stand for publicly owned and operated housing that uses geared-to-income rental rates.

We stand for leadership action by the Province, the Province should engage and support local communities — municipalities and non-profit groups — to build, own and manage housing projects.

  • The Province needs to be in charge, and (as fail-safe back-up) to provide the building and the management, as it has done in the past through the PEI Housing Corporation. But opportunity should be offered, with ongoing support — money, expertise, and facilitation — for municipalities (and non-profit community groups such as coops, Habitat, CMHA) to undertake construction projects and operate facilities, so as to suit local needs and circumstances.
  • Private-sector projects will continue to be allowed, too — but with rules and results-related incentives. This should not be the main strategy to depend on.
  • The Province should act to preserve existing affordable apartments which are at risk of being lost due to sale, demolition, illegal eviction and rent increases, and conversion to ‘upscale’ or short-term rental.  This could include government purchase or funding for community organizations to take over and renovate or replace such units and keep the rent affordable.
  • NDP PEI sees on-the-scene management of public housing by boards elected by residents.

Housing Bank

We will initiate a housing bank to acquire and protect land and buildings which can be used for public housing.

Creative and Imaginative Approaches

NDP PEI approach this crisis through

  • Experimenting and adapting — trying new methods, better accessibility, and using public housing to create vibrant neighbourhoods.
  • Combining residential and small-shop commercial … and different sizes and configurations — micro-homes, triplex and such.
  • Making homes tech-friendly, energy-efficient, fully accessible, close to stores and services and green-space, and friendly to walkers, cyclists, wheelchair or scooter users.
  • Expanding eligibility and broadening public housing beyond seniors and families with children, to have a healthy mix of residents — youth to seniors, singles, couples, persons living with physical, intellectual or mental-health challenges and across income levels.
  • Expansion of home ownership programs including mortgage and credit guarantees for those who are interested in purchasing their first home or rent-to-own.
  • Amend the Rental of Residential Property Act to strengthen tenants’ rights with respect to maintaining stability and security of tenure.
  • Give authority to municipalities to pass ‘inclusionary zoning’ rules to promote a variety of residents in a neighbourhood: to require that any private-sector construction projects include a quota of units that meet a provincial definition of truly ‘affordable’; possibly use incentives, such as tax relief.

Funding

Government has been spending millions to subsidize construction and operating breaks for businesses.  Society can certainly afford to use tax resources to ensure affordable and livable accommodation for people. 

We stand for investment in a secure future of affordable housing, and we’re not afraid to use the Province’s taxation strength to finance it.

  • applying a room tax (as for hotels) on short-term rentals (e.g. Airbnb);
  • applying the provincial portion of HST (8 or 10% of charges) to short-term rentals;
  • applying the commercial rate of tax to any operation (private home, small building) which gets used for short-term rental;
  • designing a reformed immigrant-investor (PNP) program to allow newcomers to put their money into the equivalent of affordable-housing bonds with, for example, moderate interest return for a minimum 5 yr commitment with staggered repayment over 15 years. After initial offering this program will be open to other investors as well.

Regulation

Housing is a human right, and the Province has a duty to ensure it.

We stand for using the Province’s law-making capacity to assure a supply of housing that meets need and meets standards of accessibility and livable quality and to strongly assure the protection of tenant rights.

  • As is done for tourist accommodation, make better regulations (under the Rental of Residential Property Act) to assure quality construction, and upkeep too, of rental properties— and enforce the rules through robust inspection.
  • Amend the Rental of Residential Property Act to strengthen tenants’ rights with respect to maintaining stability and security of tenure.
  • Give authority to municipalities to pass ‘inclusionary zoning’ rules to promote a variety of residents in a neighbourhood: to require that any private-sector construction projects include a quota of units that meet a provincial definition of truly ‘affordable’; possibly use incentives, such as tax relief.
  • Limit the flood of short-term rentals by restricting these rentals to principal residences only.