Nunavik’s new home ownership subsidy drawing wider interest
Revamped program can cover up to 75 per cent of purchase or construction costs
Nunavik’s housing agency says it has seen a major boost in applicants to its home ownership program since Quebec beefed up its subsidies last year.
The Kativik Municipal Housing Bureau manages social housing for roughly 97 per cent of the region’s population.
Since 2012, the Quebec government has invested in a subsidy program to help Nunavimmiut purchase or construct their own private homes.
But between 2012 and 2017, that program only saw 10 successful applicants.
After years of review and revision, the province invested $15.9 million in its 2018 budget towards a revamped program that would help fund up to 75 per cent of the cost of buying or constructing a new home in Nunavik.
That investment hopes to fund 45 private homes over a five-year period, from 2018 through 2023.
And it has already drawn nine new clients since it launched in December, said Roxanne Villeneuve, the coordinator of the KMHB’s home ownership program.
Eight of those are for private homes and one is a proposal for a non-profit housing project, which plans to build an eight-unit elders residence in Inukjuak this year.
Villeneuve called the new housing subsidy “the most generous in North America, and maybe in the world.”
“It’s essentially the same program that was launched in 2012, but the government just beefed it up,” she said.
“We realized that constructions costs had increased significantly in the last few years.”
Under the revised program, Nunavik residents can apply for a subsidy to purchase an existing home, a new, prefabricated home, or design and construct a new house.
The maximum recognized cost of that unit varies, depending on the size of the home and what community the applicant lives in.
The maximum cost for a three-bedroom home, for example, is $700,000, so applicants could receive up to $525,000, or 75 per cent of that. Non-profit organizations receive up to 90 per cent of those costs.
That includes the cost of design, construction and any travel south required for the planning purposes.
Through the program, the mortgage terms available to Nunavik home owners are for a period of 15 rather than 25 years.
During and after that period, the program also subsidizes 75 per cent of the homeowner’s annual municipal taxes bill and the equivalent of 30 per cent of housing insurance premiums.
“It’s becoming more evident now that people should move out of social housing and into their own homes,” Villeneuve said.
Quebec’s 2018 budget also invested $5 million into a buy-back fund, to be managed by the KMHB’s parent agency, the Société d’habitation du Québec, which would allow it to buy existing homes that don’t find private buyers.
That program is still under development, Villeneuve said, and should be up and running in 2020.
The 2018 budget also gave the KMHB $1 million to do a feasibility study looking at how to help current social housing tenants to eventually purchase the units they live in, as part of a rent-to-own program.
Villeneuve said the study found “a large interest” from tenants. The KMHB is currently working out the details of such a program and hopes to receive more funding from Quebec’s next budget to get it off the ground.
The KMHB plans to tour the region this summer to give Nunavimmiut more information about its housing subsidies.
Read more information on the home ownership program and how to apply here.