Home builders in N.L. praising Ottawa’s promise to spend billions on housing, but still wince at affordability

The provincial government has announced billions in spending and new or updated programs to help Canadians buy homes. (Carolyn Ryan/CBC)Invested groups in Newfoundland and Labrador kept a close eye on Tuesday’s rollout of the federal budget.Housing was among the highest priorities for many, and the federal government responded with billions in spending.”Canada’s Housing Plan” promises to “unlock” 3.9 million homes by 2031 and Ottawa pledged to flip underused federal office space to meet the targets. That has a $1.1-billion price tag over the next decade. Other promises include using redeveloping National Defence properties, topping up the Apartment Construction Loan Program and possible taxation on residential vacant land.Alexis Foster, executive director with the Canadian Home Builders’ Association in Newfoundland and Labrador, calls the housing portion of Tuesday’s budget “very positive.””We’ve actually been advocating for a long time for many of these measures. So it’s great to see,” Foster told CBC News on Wednesday.But a major problem advocates have been pushing for is affordability.Foster said 1.5 million Canadians are, right now, priced out of home ownership because of the “stringent” rules around it.Alexis Foster, executive director with the Canadian Home Builders’ Association in N.L., says the federal government is ‘finally listening.’ (Henrike Wilhelm/CBC)Last week, the feds announced affordability measures. They included an RRSP withdrawal limit increase to $60,000 — up from $35,000 — on top of the Tax-Free First Home Savings Account program. First-time home buyers with insured mortgages who also purchase a newly-built home can get a 30-year mortgage. Foster said some of the changes are sorely needed and the federal government is “finally listening.””It’s a great step in the right direction. It might not necessarily be as far as we need, but it’s definitely going to help,” she said.”It was great to see the bringing back of the 30-year amortization period for new home owners and we’ve advocated for that for a long time.”In Newfoundland and Labrador, Foster said the province is moving in the right direction in terms of getting things built, but some of the programs being ushered in can go farther.She said there’s an extreme focus on affordable housing, and the province is losing sight on housing affordability.”They’re two completely different things. We need all types of housing in order to make housing more affordable,” she said. “I think the CMHC numbers are still 60,000 for the Newfoundland population. That’s what we need. Sixty thousand new homes in the next six years. So that’s 10,000 starts a year, which is a lot more than what we’ve been doing.”Foster estimated Newfoundland and Labrador has seen 200 new builds so far this year. “There’s always work to move it into a better direction, but at least there’s steps going that way,” she said.Download our free CBC News app to sign up for push alerts for CBC Newfoundland and Labrador. Click here to visit our landing page.

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