Sale of rent-geared-to-income housing continues

The Peterborough Housing Corporation (PHC) has sold 32 of its 50 single-family homes in the Collison Heights neighbourhood, PHC board members were advised at their regular meeting last month. The sales have brought in about $9 million in revenue for the corporation.

The 50 units have long been part of the PHC’s stock of rent-geared-to-income (RGI) housing in Peterborough. City council gave approval to sell the houses in 2014 as part of a plan to finance other housing projects, most notably the PHC’s two new developments on Bonaccord Street.

The houses are only sold when tenants vacate them, according to PHC’s interim CEO Hope Lee, and tenants have been given an opportunity to purchase the houses themselves if they are able. The plan is to continue selling the remaining houses as tenants move out.

According to a recent report from city staff, the houses were fetching about $360,000 in early 2021. But more recently, they’ve been going for between $400,000 and $450,000, the report stated.

At least one of the units was turned into a market-rate rental after it was sold. An online listing in October offered 290 Denne Crescent, a three-bedroom unit, for $2,200 (not including utilities) per month. 

As a service manager under the provincial Housing Services Act, the City of Peterborough is required to ensure the provision of 1,569 units of rent-geared-to-income housing locally. Lee confirmed by email that the units in Collison Heights have previously counted toward meeting that standard.

“With any sale of an RGI there is the commitment to replace that RGI elsewhere – typically in the new developments,” Lee writes. 

However, the apartments in Malcolm Court, the first of the two Bonaccord developments, are not RGI. Their rent is calculated to be 80 percent of the average market rent — a level of affordability that is significantly lower than RGI.

“There are no replacement units in the first phase [of the Bonaccord development] and we are still finalizing the model for phase two,” Lee writes. “We will consider replacement units in developments going forward.”

In December, city council approved a plan that will see the City step in and purchase some of the Collison Heights houses to save them from falling into private ownership. The City will spend up to $940,000 of provincial money for this purpose.

“The purchase of these units will ensure that they remain in public ownership,” a report to council outlining the plan stated. “The units would be maintained as rent geared to income units rather than be transferred into private homeownership as originally planned.”

This plan will only allow for the City to purchase two units, judging by the recent price trends. With 18 houses still owned by the PHC as of the end of 2021, it’s expected that private market sales will continue in the coming months and years.

Correction: A previous version of this article stated that PHC had sold 33 of its 51 units in Collison Heights. At the time of writing, PHC had, in fact, sold 32 of 50 units. Peterborough Currents regrets the error.

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