Editorial — Housing action plan welcomed

Langley Township is going in the right direction by adopting its first-ever housing action plan. Hopefully this will lead to a better balance in some of the decisions made about housing and land use.

As noted by counsultant Linda Allen, the Township will see many more people move into the area in the future, and many of them will be older. This is in keeping with Canada’s aging population and the long-term trend of many people from other parts of the country retiring to B.C.

Yet there is little planned in the way of housing for lower-income people, including seniors, students and people with disablities.

At present, less than one per cent of the housing in the Township is subsidized housing for seniors or families, as compared with nine per cent in the City. This is clearly an imbalance, and one which needs to be gradually improved. While there are limited housing subsidies available at present, the Township needs to take full advantage of whatever programs are available.

Another example of an issue that needs attention is the point Allen made about a medium-income couple with an income of $92,000 in 2010. At present, this couple would qualify for a maximum $434,000 mortgage, if they had a solid down payment. This is in a very low interest rate environment.

If rates go up even slightly, many people who currently have mortgages would likely not qualify. They are one step away from being over their heads.

Yet the Township has done nothing to reduce the costs it builds into housing, most notably through  development cost charges. While municipalities point to increasing costs associated with growth, DCCs are tacked directly onto the cost of a home — and home costs are unaffordable for a growing spectrum of the population.

The attention in the report to manufactured home parks is important. While such parks are located across the Lower Mainland, Langley has a good share of them and they do provide an affordable and popular housing choice for many.

The Township needs to ensure that mobile home parks remain in place, and resist any attempts at rezoning such properties. Many in Langley are located in semi-rural areas, and may be seen by developers as opportunities. But the type of housing they provide is vital.

The Housing Action Plan gives  some clear directions for the future.

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