How will Budget 2022 help seniors, people with disabilities, and the most vulnerable?
How will Budget 2022 help seniors, people with disabilities, and the most vulnerable?
By Michelle Chermaine Ramos
The Philippine Reporter
The government introduced its proposed Budget 2022 last month, which, if approved, will provide Canadians with different avenues to access and build affordable housing.
Some of the interesting highlights of the roundtable discussion at MP Salma Zahid’s office on April 30, 2022, touched on the Multigenerational Home Renovation Tax Credit, Home Accessibility Tax Credit. Rent-to-own Program and investment in building new co-ops.
Could a Filipino co-op be in the horizon soon? What does this mean for many in the Filipino community?
Most seniors from ethnic communities tend to live at home with their family instead of nursing homes. According to Budget 2022, the qualifying expense limit of the Home Accessibility Tax Credit will be doubled to $20,000 for the next two tax years to help offset the cost of renovations for seniors and people with disabilities. This is a tax credit increase up to $3,000 versus the previous $1,500.
The proposed Multigenerational Home Renovation Tax Credit will also provide up to $7,500 to support the construction of a secondary suite in your residence for a senior or adult with a disability.
MP Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Housing and Diversity and Inclusion elaborated on some of the different streams of funding during the Q&A.
THE PHILIPPINE REPORTER: Regarding the Multigenerational Home Renovation Tax Credit, if you have seniors who have difficulty climbing stairs so renovating your basement is not an option, is there funding to support building a secondary suite annexed to your residence?
HUSSEN: Yes, so it’s indirect. It’s not just the basement. It also depends on which city you live in. Toronto allows you to build a garden suite and a second house or a laneway home, but that may not be true in another city. But if the city you’re living in allows you to build an additional unit, whether it’s basement or garden or runway, it doesn’t matter.
If you’re building that extra unit, three scenarios will allow you to claim a tax credit of $7,500, which is if you’re building it for a senior, a sibling, like a child or grandchild, or if you’re building it for a family member who has a disability. So say you want a family member with a disability to move into your home. You don’t want them to go down the stairs, you want to create an extra unit on the same level. That would qualify. We wouldn’t give you the money directly, but you will spend the money to renovate and then apply for tax credit, and we will give you a tax credit of $7,500. So, let’s say you paid that year you did the renovation, then you owe the government $10,000 in taxes, and then you apply for this tax credit. You will only pay $2,500 Instead of paying $10,000.
There isn’t a loan upfront. The closest thing to that is there is a program outside of Budget 2022, which we’re going to be launching very soon, is to retrofit all homes in Canada for energy efficiency to make the homes greener and that program will be a mixture of grants and loans. So, $40,000 in loans and $5,000 in free money.
TPR: How can people find out more about them?
HUSSEN: I want to really clarify the investments we’re making in affordable housing. And I’m really glad you asked that question because it gives me a chance to elaborate a little bit. Just on affordable housing alone, this is what we’re building: 6,000 new co-ops, another 6,000 new homes through the Rapid Housing Initiative, 22,000 homes through the National Housing Co-investment Fund, 100,000 new homes through the HAF. That’s the new money, let alone the existing investments through the national housing strategy. So, there’s a lot more affordable housing, but depending on the program, there’s different pockets. For example, for co-ops, it’s to build new co-ops.
If a group of people comes together and forms a new co-op, and then applies to this new fund, because we will be building new co-ops, not just supporting the existing ones, they can build the new co-op and they manage it forever. We already spend a lot of money to support the existing co-ops and subsidize them. But this is the first time in 30 years where we’re building the next generation of co-ops, so they can apply to that. Or they can say a co-op may take too long so we’ll apply to the Rapid Housing Initiative, which we just got money for the third round. There’s a project stream and there’s a billion dollars there. The city stream is 500 million. They can apply and say we’re building rapid housing in 12 months, so give us the money. Or they can apply to the core investment fund, which is building 22,000 new homes. Again, additional. Budget 2022 has $14.1 billion in new money for affordable housing. So, depending on the organization and what you’re building for, you have to take your pick and see which program works closest and that’s why you have members of parliament to help you figure out which one is more likely to fit your needs.
TPR: When you say affordable housing, for people in Toronto Community Housing that means a one bedroom is $1,200 but there are also renters that are on rent-geared-to-income. Is there a program for those people?
HUSSEN: There’s different levels of affordability depending on different programs. In the Rapid Housing Initiative, the rent is $500 because that’s targeting the most vulnerable people—people on the street. They can’t pay $1,200 so we’re charging them maximum $500. Some of them are paying as little as $275 for a one bedroom. So these investments that I just explained and the different programs have different levels of affordability, based on the need, because some people in our community, they don’t have anything. They’re on the street. So those people can’t afford $1,200 and there are others who would like $1,200 because they can’t afford $2000. There’s some who will pay the $2,000 but they can’t get rental housing.
There is not enough rental supply so we’re building more rental housing through another program called the Rental Construction Financing Initiative, which is $25 billion. That program right now has a requirement that when we finance the building of new rental buildings, 20% of the units have to be affordable. In budget 2022, we’ve doubled that to say 40% of the building has to be affordable. So if you’re building 100 apartments, 40 of them have to be affordable. So we’re going deeper, we’re doing more. But again, it depends on which program. TCHC, by the way, holds the record. We gave Toronto Community Housing Corporation $1.3 billion to renovate, get this—58,000 apartments that were in bad shape. It’s the largest federal government investment for one project in Canadian history.
TPR: When is the target implementation date for the Rapid Housing Initiative?
HUSSEN: As soon as the budget is approved, we will open the applications. People have 60 days to apply. Thirty days after that, they get the money to start the project. From that point, they have to build in 12 months. If they don’t, they have to give us the money back. That’s why it’s called Rapid Housing. And guess what? We’ve had two rounds now. Nobody has missed the deadline. There are people who are living in rapid housing homes now who were on the street last year. It’s the best program.
TPR: Once the budget is approved, who qualifies for this?
HUSSEN: Two answers. Rapid Housing has two sections. A third of the money goes to cities. We give money to cities and say build rapid housing. And we don’t tell them who. We just we have two conditions. You have to build in 12 months, like City of Toronto. Build in 12 months and you have to give the homes to one or more vulnerable type of populations. For example, seniors and indigenous people, women and children fleeing domestic violence and Canadians with disabilities. They can pick and choose. So that’s the city’s project. On the project stream, we give that money directly to organizations. So those organizations have to present us a plan to say, I’m gonna build units in Scarborough, 500 units in 12 months. And I’m going to target out of those 500, 50 will go to women, 10 will go to indigenous people 150 will go to seniors, like you have to break it down, and then we give you the money. And then you have to show us where are those people, how did you allocate those funds. In the case of the city, they just go to the city list, the waiting list for housing from the shelters.
For co-ops, you guys can get together, create a co-op. You get funded to manage a building. Normally what happens in co-ops is you have about two thirds of the units rented out by you, the board, at market rates, because you have a mortgage from the Government of Canada. And then you use those profits to subsidize the remaining one third of the units and you charge very low rent, and also pay the mortgage to the Government of Canada. In 25 years, you own the building. That’s how it works. So co-ops are great. And the board usually lives there too, so you get housing too. So think about the co-op model. It’s really good. I’ve seen communities and attended recently the 20th anniversary of a co-op building given to the Tamil Canadian community. And you know who was celebrating the 20th anniversary? Men and women who are now doctors who were born in that co-op. So my point is co-ops are a great way to build families. And you can get together and create a Filipino Canadian co-op.
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