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Land Affordability a Challenge in Namibia – Mushelenga

The Namibian Government has recognised that a large section of people still do not have access to land and decent shelter because it is unaffordable, Minister of Urban and Rural Development Peya Mushelenga said on Tuesday.

Speaking during the official opening of a high-level consultative retreat with governors, mayors and senior administration officials of local authorities at Walvis Bay, he said this is one of the major challenges the ministry faces.

The minister said the affordability of land has become a key issue, especially in developing nations, where the majority of the population is not able to buy serviced urban land or houses at market prices.
The three-day meeting is aimed at enabling the ministry and its management to engage the officials with a view toward developing a sense of togetherness and teamwork.

Mushelenga gave his assurance that the government will continue to provide budgetary support to regional councils and local authorities to service land and develop other basic services, in keeping with the Harambee Prosperity Plan and national development targets.

Other challenges faced by the ministry include the high rate of open defecation in rural areas and informal settlements, for which statistics stand at 70%.

Other challenges and topics of discussion during the deliberations include poor governmental budget execution, poor coordination among offices and agencies, poverty and rural development.

Mushelenga said the Ministry of Urban and Rural Development, along with regional councils and local authorities, is entrusted with the responsibility of meeting some of the fundamental needs of the people of Namibia.
He, therefore, emphasised that it is critical for the ministry and its departments to have structures in place and to work together in order to effectively execute this mandate.

Source: nbc

Analyzing Low-Cost Mortgages, Affordable Housing

According to the Urban Institute, families have the stable income needed to support homeownership in smaller, more affordable communities, but are unable to afford a home because they can’t access a mortgage, or don’t have cash to buy a home.

The study states that there were more than 700,000 homes sold for $85,000 or less in 2018, and according to the Urban Institute, these homes are less likely to be financed with a mortgage than high-priced homes.

Limited financing options becomes a barrier for homeownership. Instead, the home is sold to investors, and families may turn to riskier seller financing options, such as land contracts, which have fewer borrower protections than mortgages.

The study continues by saying expanding access to small-dollar mortgages could help many households in communities with lower-than-average homeownership rates.

The Urban Institute states that about 10% of the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania’s households own a home worth less than $70,000, and 22% are renters. With average incomes of $36,000 and $32,000 for these owners and renters, respectively, they are close to suggest a small-dollar mortgage could put the renters in a position to buy a low-cost home.

Statistics show that 26% of Pittsburgh’s renters are people of color, with around 10% owning a home valued at $70,000 or less. Fewer than 5% own a home worth $150,000 or more.

recent report by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), with data from the U.S. Census Bureau, found that homeownership rates for minorities fell to 64.2% in Q1 2019 from 64.8% to end 2018.

The “all minority” homeownership rate, which includes African American, Hispanic and “other households” (Asian, Native American, etc.), came in at 47.1% in Q1 2019—a slight year-over-year decrease from 48%, and a decline from 47.7% in Q4 2018.

Recent NAHB information revealed that the amount of newly-formed owner-occupied home grew in the first quarter. Expansion during Q1 2019, though, was slower than last year, indicating the decline of affordable housing due to elevated home prices.

Source: dsnews

Halfway Into 2019, How Is The Housing Market Holding Up?

Hard to believe we’re already halfway through 2019.

Headed into the year, all eyes were on the housing market as it showed signs of softening for the first time in recent memory. A sharp rise in inventory, talk of more rate hikes and shrinking home price gains in the fourth quarter of 2018 created a cloud of uncertainty.

Six months in, it’s safe to say that the sky isn’t falling. But you might think of the real estate market right now as behaving like a C student that isn’t living up to its full potential.

“The housing market is doing fine,” said Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist for the National Association of Realtors. “But it certainly can do better given what’s happening with job creation and the historically low mortgage rate that is currently in place.”

To make sense of this transitional period, it’s time for a midyear market pulse check. Here’s how leading industry economists are piecing together the first stretch of 2019 and what they say is in store for the future of housing.

Affordability challenges yank back price growth 

“For the first time in a long time, we’re starting to see prices correct,” said Skylar Olsen, Director of Economic Research at Zillow. “And the big thrust that’s changing that narrative is the affordability challenge.”

She explains that when home values outpace incomes so aggressively, the two “have to snap back together eventually,” which is in effect what’s happened.

In April, the S&P Case-Shiller Home Price Index dropped for the 13th month in a row. To be clear, home values are still going up nationally; they’re just rising at a more moderate rate. Annual gains for April clocked in at 3.5%, down from 3.7% in March.

But in some markets the shift has been far more dramatic.

Take Seattle. For two years price growth accelerated faster there than anywhere else in the country. Then between April 2018 and April 2019, the year-over-year price change shrunk from 13.8% growth to a 0.0% flatline. Over the same time frame, San Francisco fell from 10.9% to 1.8% annual gains.

Notice a trend? The markets with the fastest growth fell the hardest. Some exceptions bucking the norm have been Las Vegas, Phoenix and Tampa, their resilience due to how hard they were hit by the 2008 housing crisis.

“I would say the price appreciation of 3% is a healthy development,” added Yun.

Mortgage rates drop, but buyers aren’t jumping the gun

After four benchmark rate hikes in 2018, the Federal Reserve signaled it planned on two more increases this year. That gave analysts every reason to believe mortgages were well on their way 5.5%.

But in March the Fed moved away from that intent and showed signs of even lowering the interest rate (whether that will happen is still TBD). As expectations changed, mortgage rates dropped from 5.09% to 4.09% between November 2018 and June 2019.

However, low interest rates aren’t like an immediate caffeine jolt for the housing market. “It doesn’t impact the down payment,” said Olsen. “And that’s the real struggle, right? Just because mortgage rates dropped doesn’t mean I can suddenly reenter the housing market.”

Demand is also tied to homebuyer sentiment, which isn’t necessarily strong right now. In June, consumer confidence dropped 9.8 points to the lowest level since September 2017 as a result of tensions surrounding the trade wars, according to the Conference Board.

“Consumers are picking up on that lack of certainty about the economic outlook,” said Danielle Hale, Chief Economist at realtor.com. “And that’s not necessarily going to inspire them to make large purchases like a house.”

Inventory challenges persist on the low-end price points 

Overall inventory has started to creep up a bit this year, though it’s deceiving to try and judge the state of affairs without seeing how the market is truly split in half.

“There is plentiful inventory on the upper end market, so the housing shortage is really on the mid-priced and low ends,” said Yun. “Because the property tax deduction has been limited, there is less desire or greater financial burden from owning than before, so the upper-end market appears to be generally softer.”

In addition experts say builders have faced a number of obstacles to ramping up new construction, including high land prices, labor barriers, material costs, and the onerous process to obtain permits.

All this puts pressure on profit margins so when builders do construct a new house, it tends to be more on the luxury end.

Finally, as people move less often and more boomers decide to age in place rather than downsize, “that’s just kind of holding up a lot of the inventory that otherwise would be lubricating the whole system,” Olsen added.

So together these dynamics have created a tale of two markets.

“If you’re selling an entry level home, you’re probably still looking at a pretty competitive market in most places,” said Hale. “But if you’re selling a more expensive home you probably have to adjust your expectations.”

Cost of living and taxes sway local market conditions 

Nationally, housing conditions could be described as a seller’s market that’s gradually moving more in favor of buyers.

Drill down to the regional or local level though, and it varies. For one, some metro areas outside of major cities have stayed warmer as they catch the spillover of priced-out buyers (see: Tacoma). Strong job creation and reasonable cost of living has kept Midwest markets like Louisville and Indianapolis thriving, along with markets that resemble the Midwest in affordability. Rochester, New York is a prime example.

But there’s always exceptions. Go to Chicagoland, and you’ll hear agents tell a very different story.

“It’s definitely a buyer’s market here,” said Kim Alden, a Realtor with Baird & Warner in the Chicago suburb of Barrington, Illinois. “Inventory is a lot higher. Buyers are negotiating harder than ever because there’s a lot of people who want to sell their house and they’re using that to get the lowest price that they can.”

Alden says that 65%-75% of her listings come from people who want to leave the state of Illinois altogether to escape new and existing state tax laws.

With supply high, she’s seeing sellers experience disappointment that they can’t get as much money for their house as they expected, with one exception: updated, smaller homes are “flying off the shelves.”

“I listed a little three-bedroom, bath and a half for $178,000, and in the first weekend we had 33 showings,” Alden recalled.

Apparently anywhere, an affordable turn-key home remains a hot commodity.

But high-end sellers will need to bust out the paint and spruce up their curb appeal to attract buyers.

What about the rest of the year? 

Real estate experts remain optimistic about housing’s prospects for the latter half of 2019. Olsen expresses that even if GDP growth weakens and wages slow, it’s likely that the market is primed for some kind of a rebound.

The biggest reason for this is that as huge waves of millennials continue to reach peak home-buying age, that will put pressure on demand not only this year but in the years to come. And it’s hard to argue with long-term demographics. If a recession does hit at some point as part of the economic cycle, housing would therefore be impacted though perhaps not devastated.

Ultimately after a long post-recession hot streak, housing was due to break fever. The hope is that the market will heat up a little slower next time and create some normalcy. For now, consider it a short-term correction, and hope that more homes will come on the market that people can actually afford.

“The perfect scenario going forward,” Yun said, “even off into the next couple of years, is if there can be a robust increase in new home construction, the housing market will be more of a bright spot for the broader economy.”

Launch of Land Fund a Boost for Affordable Housing

Access to affordable housing received a major boost on Tuesday following the launch of SA’s first land fund. The fund, which was created in partnership with the department of human settlements, water and sanitation, aims to fill in the 1.7-million shortfall in the 5-million housing target that was set in 1994.

Kameel Keshav, a former CFO of Rebosis Property Fund, and Rali Mampeule, the CEO of Phadima Group Holdings, unveiled The South African Housing and Infrastructure Fund (Sahif), which already owns land worth R1.7bn. Sahif plans to acquire vacant and unused land  near  towns and cities, prepare it for development, then sell it to the government.

“This will assist the state in building much-needed homes for poor and middle-class citizens,” said Mampeule.

Keshav said the government “has a large budget for housing development. A lot of the budget is returned each year. We saw this niche where we could provide land to the government and help to speed up the housing roll-out process so that government can meet its housing targets.”

In his state of the nation address in June, President Cyril Ramaphosa hinted at plans to accelerate the provision of well-located housing and land to poor South Africans.

“While we have made great progress in providing housing, many South Africans still need land to build homes and earn livelihoods. In the next five years, we will accelerate the provision of well-located housing and land to poor South Africans,” said Ramaphosa.

The fund has a potential pipeline of land worth R15.3bn and expects to yield 108,160 stands in Gauteng, the Western Cape, Mpumalanga, the Free State and Limpopo over the next three years.

While Sahif’s first priority will be affordable housing, the land can also be used for other property developments. It expects its project to result in about 11,000 jobs.

In 2018, Keshav tried to list a student accommodation fund but struggled to get enough capital amid weak economic conditions. Mampeule previously worked at Chas Everitt International, later buying a franchise from the estate agent.

Source: businesslive

AHCN 2019 Workshop Addresses Rental and Low Income Housing in Nigeria

The Association of Housing Corporations of Nigeria (AHCN) have held a 2-day National Workshop on Pragmatic Approach to Addressing Rental and Low Income Housing Availability and Affordability in Nigeria.

The workshop which was also the 99th Council Meeting of AHCN took place in Calabar from Tuesday 25th to Thursday 27th 2019.

Participants at the workshop bemoan the increasing housing shortage and affordability crisis without corresponding actions to match the demand and calls for urgent collaboration among stakeholders with pragmatic strategies that will directly address the housing and employment needs of the people.

The workshop identifies mass rental housing as untapped viable option of sustaining housing corporations and call on all state governments to support their state housing agencies in driving rental housing across Nigeria.

The workshop notes and commends the establishment and impact of Family Homes Funds and its efforts to make affordable housing available to low income earners through funding development, mortgage and rent to own scheme. A call was made to all State Governments to support their state housing corporations and make lands available to ensure the success of the family Homes Funds programs.

In a communique signed by AHCN President, Muhammed Baba Adamu and Secretary General, Mr. Olusola Martins, the workshop recognizes the inherent opportunities in business partnerships and calls for effective partnership models and synergies between Family Homes Funds and the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria, FMBN to enhance development funding and wholesale mortgage lending and origination to reduce housing shortfall in Nigeria.

The workshop commends the recent FMBN review of the off-takers guarantee which makes it acceptable and bankable in favour of housing corporations to enable them access construction loans from commercial banks and calls on all state governments to support their housing corporations to take advantage of these opportunities for mass housing projects.

Housing cooperatives were also identified by the workshop as viable option to enhance housing availability and affordability as well as mobilizing resources and off-takers in tackling funding mechanism challenge; and therefore call for collaboration of housing cooperatives with housing agencies in addressing rental and low income housing shortage in Nigeria.

The workshop identifies the challenge and lack of adoption of foreclosure laws to safeguard investors as one of the impediments to attraction of housing finance to the housing sector and calls on governments to speed up the adoption of legal framework for judicial enforcement of mortgages and foreclosure legislations to boost investors’ confidence and streamline bureaucracies in the Nigeria’s mortgage market.

The workshop calls on all housing agencies to embrace modern technology and digital solution for development and management of real estates and rental housing and to adopt highly skilled labour for development.

The workshop resolved to address the issue of non-availability of data base for off-takers on real estate and mortgage information management which constituted major challenge to the development of mortgage system in Nigeria. The Association resolves to sustain a pilot scheme of Home Ownership Off-takers Affordability Survey Data base which commenced first quarter of 2018 with a creation of a verifiable working database of about 1,000 workers per selected state with her partner Value Chain Project Consultants, to pre-qualify them for their actual housing needs and mortgages to acquire same in all the states of the federation. The meeting therefore reiterates its call on the Federal Government and the CBN to provide revolving housing fund and inject a minimum of N500 billion loans as intervention funds into the real estate sector at a single digit to develop the housing sector.

The workshop also reiterates its commitment to Public Private Partnership (PPP) and calls on government to take appropriate steps to address, strengthen and embrace emerging partnership options for effective housing delivery of decent and affordable mass housing so as to promote effectiveness and profitability of housing agencies.

The forum observes the drop in commitment by governments towards the National Housing Fund contributions and implored them to sustain the contribution to make funds available for housing development.

The workshop calls on the FMBN to make the loans process more applicant friendly by removing all bureaucratic hurdles and demonstrate a verifiable and transparent trends of benefits to NHF contributors nationwide in order to win back the confidence of states that have withdrawn.

The meeting notes the availability of local building materials and calls on governments and all Nigerians to embrace the use of local building materials as appropriate alternative for addressing availability and affordable housing in Nigeria. With the availability of Hydraform and NBRRI technologies, state governments are encouraged to set up pilot scheme of local building materials plants in all the states of the federation to encourage development and acceptance of local building materials in Nigeria.

The meeting notes and commends various research works and development of Nigerian Building and Road Research Institute (NBRRI) over the years which culminated in the discovery and development of Interlocking Cement Stabilize Earthly Blocks (ICESEBs) and production of pozzolana cements a partial replacement of Portland Cement which are procured from locally sourced, readily available raw material with cementing properties serving as partial replacement for conventional cement with a completely built pilot plants in both NBRRI premises, Ota in Ogun State and at Bokkos in Plateau State; and call on government to embrace NBRRI technologies to set an example for its acceptance by Nigerians.

The forum notes and commends the involvement of NBRRI in investigation of building collapse cases in Nigeria and posits that such involvement will promote quality delivery of housing as it will assist to determine the causes of collapse and proffer solutions to generate data bank for building collapses in the country

By Ojonugwa Felix Ugboja

Family Homes Funds Making Affordable Housing a Reality for Nigerians

Following a successful partnership between Family Homes Funds and Delta state, Vice President of Nigeria, Prof Yemi Osinbajo will in few days be commissioning 650 units affordable housing estate in Asaba, Delta state for low income earners. This and many more projects are ongoing efforts by Family Homes Funds to make affordable housing a reality for Nigerians.

Family Homes Funds is a pivotal force in driving affordable housing objectives in Nigeria since its establishment. The Federal Government housing initiative intended to support the development of up to 500,000 Homes targeted at people on low income over the next 5 years has designed innovative schemes that is helping to deliver affordable housing in Nigerian and increase the housing options in the market.

With its many social housing rental funds like Help To Own, Rent To Own among others, the impact of Family Homes Funds is already being felt by Nigerians after a take-off that hasn’t been more than 12 months.

According to the Managing Director of Family Homes Funds (FHF), Mr Femi Adewole, the most transformative thing they can do is to introduce a formal rental system into the market.

The Fund has launched a social housing rental housing fund to provide affordable housing opportunities for Nigerians on very low and medium income. The cost of monthly rentals doesn’t exceed 40% of household income and beneficiaries will have an option to buy at any time they are able to do so.

Many Nigerians on low income are unable to buy a home either because they do not have sufficient savings for a deposit or are currently unable to meet requirements for a mortgage. The Family Homes Funds’ Rental Housing Fund gives Nigerians on low income a first step on the housing ladder. Eligible beneficiaries are able to lease a decent home for a monthly cost not exceeding 40% of their household income and an option to buy the home anytime.

The Fund complements existing mortgage financing facilities by providing targeted assistance to people on low income through a Home Loans Assistance Fund – Help to Buy as part of the Governments’ Social Intervention Programme. The assistance is in form of a deferred loan for up to 40% of the cost of their home with no payments for the first 5 years.

Due to cost and low income, most Nigerians cannot own a home and are most times forced to live in slums with poor housing conditions and poor security.

This assistance from Family Homes Funds is unique because no payments will be made until the 6th year, where monthly payments will start repaying both interest and capital. To assist the purchaser, the amount paid starts low and increases each year in gradual steps (average 6.5% per annum) in order for the HTB loan to be fully repaid by year 20, the same year as the mortgage is expected to be fully repaid.

To qualify, households should have earnings between N600k to N1.2m per annum and the new home costs less than N7.5m. An exception is made in Abuja, Lagos, Port Harcourt and Kano where the cost of a new home can be as high as N9m. Households benefiting from Loan Assistance must not already own a suitable home and need to include one income earner who is under 35 years of age and does not have to be one of the people applying for the scheme or the loan but must available to help with repayments.

In addition, this July, the Vice President of Nigeria, Prof Yemi Osinbajo will commission an estate in Asaba financed by Family Homes Funds in partnership with Delta state government. The affordable estate is made up of 650 housing units for low income earners.

The affordable housing project consists of one, two and three bedroom bungalows with all necessary facilities for home functionality. The estate has adequate access to water supply, power, security and good road network.

Built with high quality and sustainable materials, the houses are structured in ways that give each owner and his or her family a decent living space and some sense of privacy.

According to the MD, Femi Adewole, the estate is built in a fast developing and serene area with a lot of greenery. It represents the Funds’ vision to not only build houses, but to build ones that are healthy to live in and affordable for the owners.

More initiatives are also ongoing in the six geopolitical zones of the country with some either completed or at near completion stages. In Borno for example, the Fund is developing 4,700 housing project for civil servants and Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs).

According to Femi Adewole, 1700 of the 4700 homes are targeted at civil servants, mostly middle and low income civil servants, while 3000 is being built for IDPs whom have been displaced by Boko Haram insurgency in the northeast.

‘’They are small houses built in the outline areas, not necessarily in Maiduguri, but those villages that had been ravaged by the insurgents. The state has already produced quite a number but what most people are not aware of is the hundreds of thousands of Nigerians who have been displaced by Boko Haram who are still living in temporary refugee camps for 3 to 5 years. So the government has a programme of returning them back to their villages which have been liberated. The idea is that we will be joining the government efforts to finance those homes,’’ he said.

Several Family Homes projects are currently going on in states like Kaduna, Nasarawa, Delta, Ogun, Kano etc. The major excitement for most Nigerians is the affordability of these projects which had previously been difficult for low income earners. This has definitely been a new dawn and efforts should be sustained in order to reduce Nigeria’s burdensome housing deficit.

By Ojonugbwa Felix Ugboja

Fairfield Needs More Affordable Housing

As a group that is dedicated to the holistic health of Fairfield, we are particularly concerned about affordable housing for our town work force: many of our teachers, firemen, police officers, and municipal workers cannot afford to live in the town where they work.

Fairfield’s senior population includes those who would like to downsize after retirement, but smaller, single floor homes at reasonable prices are not available. Our two universities are graduating students who have come to love Fairfield during their years here, but they cannot afford to stay.

Having a town that is diverse, rich in community and has multi-generations of families residing can only strengthen Fairfield. We believe a healthy community is one that it is within economic reach of everyone.

Defining affordable

Both our state and HUD define affordable housing using a formula based on percentages of the Area Median Income.

One third of income in those formulas represents what is considered to be affordable dedicated to housing expense. FairPLAN supports that strategy of defining affordability, but we believe that housing based on applying the one third formula to 100 percent of the area median income (currently about $94,000) represents attainable housing that also needs to be available in Fairfield.

Affordable housing should not be isolated

FairPLAN believes that persons needing affordable housing should be able to live in any of Fairfield’s wonderful neighborhoods, and affordable housing should not be clustered in any one area. Operation Hope has a great model of spreading its supply of affordable housing throughout town. That model, however, only works on a small scale.

The Fairfield Housing Authority provides high quality rental units in two developments located in residential areas. The Housing Authority is proposing a third development in the High Street neighborhood.

The newly proposed development has met resistance from neighbors and other residents who have stated their concerns for the development. We know that development can be disruptive to neighborhoods and their concerns are rightful issues that need to be addressed in a cohesive manner. Our town Planning and Zoning Commission has done a great job evaluating all the factors for and against developments similar to the new Housing Authority proposal.

They have approved some and rejected others based on their best judgment of applicable regulations and with due consideration to neighborhood concerns. We support the regulatory process and the careful and deliberative work our Zoning officials do to decide which developments make sense for our  town.

Economics play a central role in the development of affordable housing. For multi-unit residential housing, for example, a developer must build enough market rate units to support the lower revenue that comes from the affordable component of a project. This financial reality has led to multi-unit developments of larger scale. Some of the attempts in Fairfield to build very small-scale multi-unit projects have not been successful.

8-30g

Our state mandates affordable housing using a harsh regulation known as 8-30g. This regulation allows developers to avoid most zoning regulations as long as their projects do not create substantial health or safety problems. 8-30g has been misused by some developers to build oversize projects in areas where they simply do not belong.

Fairfield is attempting to counter the negative effects of 8-30g by mandating that all residential development of ten or more units be at least 10 percent affordable. Consideration is also on-going to allow smaller apartments that will be rentable at lower costs. It appears that this strategy is working, and Fairfield is likely to achieve a moratorium from 8-30g, as some other towns have, within the next couple years.

Fairfield is unfairly targeted under the 8-30g statute because it calculates our town as having only 2.5 percent affordable housing stock. We have far more than 2.5 percent, but those residence units do not fit 8-30g’s unreasonable definition. Nevertheless, Fairfield does need more affordable housing. It is vital to the general economic vitality as well as fulfilling the needs of our citizen’s changing housing needs (seniors want smaller housing in town; students want to stay in town, etc.) we need to increase our affordable and attainable housing stock.

Sustainability
Too little attention has been given to sustainable development and making Fairfield sustainable. It would be a vast understatement to say the world is facing a climate crisis, and towns and cities like Fairfield produce vast amounts of emissions and pollution, hurting both human and ecological well-being.

FairPLAN believes that far more needs to be done to encourage “green” building practices and methods using sustainable materials and focus on energy efficiency initiatives. We need more solar power for residential developments and more use of water conservation technologies. Equally, we need to commit to new tree plantings, which are a vital part of our ecosystem.

FairPLAN is committed to Fairfield, its ecosystem and neighbors and we see ourselves as partners in ensuring our community is a thriving place to live. We view our role as collaborative stewards and we strive to work with neighborhood groups, agencies and government officials for the greater good. Together, we can do more.

Source: ctmirror

Strong Demand at Affordable Housing Development in Doncaster

In fact, the development sold out before the first brick was even laid on site. It comprises eight semi-detached bungalows, which have been sold under the affordable shared ownership scheme*, and a bespoke detached bungalow for a family with specific housing needs.

The homes, which are located on Layden Drive, Scawsby, have been developed through a partnership between Johnnie Johnson Housing, Doncaster Council and Homes England. Doncaster Council provided the land for the scheme, which was funded jointly by the council, Johnnie Johnson Housing and Homes England.  It is one of two affordable housing developments in the area that has been developed through this partnership arrangement.

This week, representatives from Johnnie Johnson Housing and Doncaster Council visited Layden Drive’s new residents to see how they are settling in. All the residents are delighted with their properties and were keen to show the delegation round their impressive new homes. Chair of Board at Johnnie Johnson Housing, Frances Street, presented each of the residents with a bouquet of flowers as a welcome to their new homes. To officially mark the completion and handover of the site, Mrs Street and Cllr Glyn Jones, Deputy Mayor and Cabinet Member for Housing and Equalities at Doncaster Council cut a presentation ribbon.

The two-bedroom bungalows benefit from aspirational and thoughtful design and build, with a host of desirable features including open-plan, fully-fitted living-kitchens onto paved patios and gardens, level access showers, sun tubes, off-street parking with electric charging points, as well as sustainable drainage to drives. The properties enjoy uninterrupted views across open farm land.

The five-bedroom detached bungalow in the scheme has been built as a bespoke home for a family from the council’s Accessible Housing Register and is intended to provide a better quality of life for the whole family. The property has full level access and is laid out in an open-plan manner to assist maneuverability. There is a wet room with shower, various equipment including motorised hoists, a recharging bay for wheelchairs and ample off-street parking for disability-adapted vehicles.

The development started in June 2018 and was completed on 26 April 2019. The architects were local practice Building Link Design, of Doncaster, and building contractor Torpoint of Bradford.

The second affordable housing development at nearby Edwin Drive, Woodlands completed on Friday 28 June. It provides 14 additional bungalows for rent to the over 55s within the Woodlands Conservation Area. The properties are being advertised via Doncaster Homechoice and nominations will be from the council’s waiting list.

Cllr Glyn Jones, Deputy Mayor and Cabinet Member for Housing and Equalities, said:

“These two quality housing developments are further evidence of our ongoing commitment to providing a wide range of homes across our borough so the needs and wants of Doncaster residents are satisfied. It was a pleasure to meet the residents who are all over the moon with their new homes.”

Lisa Johnson, Director of Development at Johnnie Johnson Housing, who was at the resident welcome event, said:

“The partnership demonstrates that it is entirely possible to deliver quality homes that are both aspirational and affordable and which meet the specific needs of the community who we are building for. We are focused on building homes that people want to live in and that will grow with the needs of residents, and to provide a long-lasting successful relationship that is beneficial to both parties. The fact the housing development sold out prior to the first brick even being laid on site shows the demand for this £1.3million scheme.”

Johnnie Johnson Housing plans to develop 1,000 new homes over the next eight years, with a focus on modern housing for older people.

Source: Doncaster

Amherst Town Council OKs affordable housing project

By a nearly unanimous vote Monday, the Town Council approved Community Preservation Act funding for a proposed 28-unit affordable housing project at 132 Northampton Road.

The vote was 11 in favor and one abstention to appropriate $500,000 for the Valley Community Development Corp. project. District 5 Councilor Shalini Bahl-Milne was not in attendance at the meeting.

“We’re of course pleased that it got funded,” said Laura Baker, Valley CDC real estate project manager.

Of the units in the proposed development, all of which would be single room occupancy units, eight would be reserved for those making $31,050 annually or less; eight would be reserved for those making $49,700 or less; 10 would be reserved for those making $18,650 or less, with a preference for the homeless; and two units  would be reserved for those making $18,650 or less who are clients of the Department of Mental Health.

The project has drawn objections from several people in the neighborhood, some of whom used the public comment period on the matter to once again note their disapproval.

“I have never been against affordable housing,” said abutting neighbor Barbara Gravin Wilbur.

She went on to suggest that the city focus on providing affordable housing for families over single people.

Neighborhood resident Aimee Gilbert Loinaz said she is a public health professional, and said there would be a need for 24-hour-a-day, seven-days-a-week services at the facility.

“Where is the programming expertise?” she asked.

She also criticized the development process for a lack of neighborhood outreach, and suggested that the screening process Valley CDC uses for tenants could be in danger of violating the law.

District 3 Councilor Dorothy Pam, who abstained in the final vote, suggested that the council wait on voting for the project.

“I am asking that we postpone this vote tonight,” she said.

She expressed a desire to see more about the supervision plan for the site from Valley CDC, and expressed concern at the prospect of tenants not being able to have overnight guests. She also said that those who have asked questions have been shamed and accused of opposing affordable housing and hating homeless people.

“That’s not true for me and I don’t think it’s true for the residents,” she said.

Asked after the vote about the overnight guest policy, Baker said that no policy forbidding overnight guests has been decided on for the 132 Northampton Road property. Baker also said that none of Valley CDC’s properties has 24-hour supervision.

“It is not typical in affordable housing,” she said

Pam’s suggestion to delay the vote didn’t gain traction with her fellow councilors.

“I find it incredible that anyone would say that this has been rushed,” said District 4 Councilor Evan Ross, who said he first learned about it in January.

“It’s been consuming more time than any other singular issue,” he said.

“To delay would be ridiculous,” said District 2 Councilor Patricia De Angelis.

Nevertheless, De Angelis did say that both sides of the issue needed to find more ways to talk across distances and move forward together.

Some of the councilors also said that issues with the plan would be best figured out in the zoning process.

Speaking in favor of the project, resident John Page noted that he himself had grown up in affordable housing.

“Amherst needs the people that need affordable housing,” he said, naming teachers, firefighters, people getting started in their careers, seniors and people with disabilities as beneficiaries.

Nate Buddington, who chairs the town’s Community Preservation Act Committee, rejected the call for 24-hour-a-day supervision for the proposed development.

“This isn’t a halfway house and it’s not a mental health facility,” he said. “It’s housing for low-income people.”Baker said the next step for the project will be to prepare a package to get a project eligibility letter from the state, after which an application would be submitted to the town’s Zoning Board of Appeals.

Source: Daily Hampshire Gazette

Cheap houses selling fast in Sunshine Coast’s ‘northern suburb’

Droves of Sunshine Coast home owners – attracted by homes often half the price – are pulling up stumps and buying in Gympie, local agents say.

The latest Domain data shows that in the Wide Bay-Burnett district town housing values are up 14 per cent since 2014.

Moreover, its cheapest 25 per cent of house sales have risen in value by 13 per cent in the past five years.

While it’s hardly bad news, what it means is that Gympie’s median house price is a budget-friendly $330,000 – almost 46 per cent less than the Greater Sunshine Coast region’s median house price of $610,000.

Data puts the coast’s median unit price at $430,000 in March this year.

These stark price gaps are not lost on coastal residents who, fed up with increasing traffic and booming population sizes, are “finally discovering us”, said Clancy Adams of LJ Hooker Gympie.

Mr Adams reports he has been selling three-bedroom “character” houses in the 20,000-strong town, in need of full renovation, for around $200,000 in under three weeks since the May federal election, and similarly sized houses in better condition for the mid-$200,000s.

“It [Gympie] has always been here and people are getting tired of the congestion on the Sunshine Coast and searching for affordability,” Mr Adams said.

26_Old_Maryborough_Rd_Gympie_gqqoto
Gympie’s housing is more affordable but it is still a commutable distance from Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast, agents say. Photo: Tom Grady Real Estate

“They are saying, it [the coast] has changed, that it is not the lifestyle they bought into 20 years ago, and with the [Bruce Highway] bypass meaning 45 minutes to Noosa Heads, two hours to Brisbane, it is only 20 minutes extra for people commuting these days.

“[Gympie] is pretty much being seen today as a northern suburb of the Sunshine Coast.”

Mr Adams reports “there are still a few cheapies around” and investor yields remain unaffected: still 5 to 6 per cent on average.

About $500,000 will buy one to two hectares with four beds, two baths, a double garage and a possibly pool in Gympie municipality, about 40 kilometres northeast of Noosa Heads, he says.

“They [Sunshine Coast buyers] are selling their four-bedrooms on 400 square metres for about $400,000 and reinvesting here for not much more than half that price,” he said.

“Even if they buy and know they have some updating ahead, they are still well in front.”

51_Clematis_Street_Gympie_oyh5mu
Houses like 51 Clematis Street, Gympie, are being snapped up by out-of-town buyers. This property is listed for sale for only $249,000. Photo: Century 21 Platinum Agents

According to Domain sales figures, houses in Gympie’s lowest percentile (house sale prices in the bottom 25 per cent of total sales) sold for a median price of just $260,000 between October 31, 2018 and April 30 this year.

Properties under $250,000, which includes houses and units, currently make up a third of all sales.

Total listings dropped by 5.4 per cent in the past six months, with house listings decreasing by 10.6 per cent and house sales falling by 23.5 per cent.

Greg “Bert” Gilmore of Tom Grady Real Estate in Gympie agrees the cheaper stuff ($180,000 to $200,000) doesn’t last too long, although housing in the early $300,000s had not seen any change.

“People from the Sunshine Coast love buying up here right now because they cannot get anything near the coast any more,” Mr Gilmore said.

“I had a nice open house just recently for a three [bedroom] by three [bathroom] and three groups, all from the Sunshine Coast, came through.

“In terms of motivation, it is a bit of buy to live in and a bit of rent out. But it is still a buyers’ market overall.”

4everson_lane_gympie_u7r42j
Greg ‘Bert’ Gilmore says houses at the lower end of the market in Gympie do not stay on the market for very long. Photo: Tom Grady Real Estate

Local sources tip construction on the fourth and final stage of the four-lane 62-kilometre bypass – which will link Curra with Woondum – will start in early 2020.

“This four-lane bypass has and is going to make a bit of a difference,” Mr Gilmore says.

Billy Mitchell, principal of Century 21 Gympie, told Domain it had been a fantastic year and “surprisingly” upbeat since the election.

“Anything in that low $200s market will be sold in under 45 days; even 30 days,” Mr Mitchell said.

Asked why lowest-priced houses were moving so fast – and who was buying – he also credited the region’s four-lane highway, and affordability.

The Mary River town also claims a virtually non-existent rental home vacancy rate.

“The [buyer] drive is coming from the Sunshine Coast plus we are less than an hour to Tin Can Bay, to Hervey Bay, and under two hours to the Brisbane Airport,” Mr Mitchell said.

“I really think it is all about affordability in the past two years, when you consider the Sunshine Coast market and ours.

“Of course it depends on where you work, but if you are travelling for 40 minutes to get to work and can buy a nice family house, three or four-bedrooms on a quarter-acre block, sell up your Sunshine Coast home and have $200,000 left over to stash in your kitty – look, it is a pretty compelling reason to do so.”

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