Community Housing Affordability Collective concerned about changes to mortgage insurance and lending rules

The Community Housing Affordability Collective (CHAC) is concerned about the recently announced changes to federal policies and legislation affecting mortgage insurance and lending rules. The collective believes the proposed changes will significantly impact potential first-time homebuyers and will subsequently limit the ability for Calgarians to move along the housing spectrum and meet their lifetime housing needs.

On October 3, a series of proposed changes were announced as follows:

• Bring consistency to mortgage insurance rules by standardizing eligibility criteria for high- and low-ratio insured mortgages, including a mortgage rate stress test;
• Improve tax fairness by closing loopholes surrounding the capital gains tax exemption on the sale of a principal residence; and,
• Consult on how to better protect taxpayers by ensuring that the distribution of risk in the housing finance system is balanced.

CHAC understands the new measures are intended to protect the long-term financial security of Canadians. However, the collective is concerned about unintended consequences in Calgary, particularly to those at the near ownership segment of the housing spectrum, at a time when our economy is struggling.

In particular, homebuyers will be required to qualify for a mortgage using a higher interest rate than they will actually be paying, despite that many buyers secure five-year fixed-rate mortgages through an existing rigorous qualification process. This will reduce the mortgage amount attainable for buyers and it will lock out more people from buying entry-level homes, placing greater pressure on market and subsidized rental stock that have been historically in short supply in Calgary.

It is important to know that non-market housing providers, particularly affordable home ownership programs, will be impacted by changes to mortgage insurance rules. Programs that serve buyers with less than 20 percent down are reporting that the minimum qualifying incomes may need to increase as a result of the proposed changes, otherwise organizations may reconsider their business models. This is a serious concern as it will impact access to effective affordable home ownership solutions in our city.

The following is a real example outlining the impacts to a single parent earning $50,000 with no debt purchasing a home through Calgary’s Attainable Home Ownership Program.

 
 

Federal housing policies must consider how different regions have unique needs and avoid destabilizing local markets and initiatives.

CHAC welcomes opportunities to participate in consultation with all levels of government regarding any policy changes and solutions that may have an impact on housing affordability in Calgary.

CHAC is focusing on three key outcomes to improve housing affordability in Calgary:

  1. Integrated approach to housing. Create a consistent, centralized housing intake process that is coordinated across providers, and establish a common voice.
     
  2. Stable and diverse housing mix. Ensure that residents are appropriately housed and can access the full range of housing options that meet their needs.
     
  3. Predictable and stable funding. Develop or modify financial processes and tools to enhance housing affordability.

 

This message is endorsed by the following Community Housing Affordability Collective members: Attainable Homes Calgary Corporation, Calgary Housing Company, CHBA-UDI Calgary Region Association, City of Calgary, HomeSpace, Horizon Housing Society, InHouse Attainable Housing Society, University of Calgary Haskayne School of Business, Vibrant Communities Calgary.

 
CHA Collective