Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Welcome to Montreal: Subsidies for First Time House Buyers of Modest Means

A couple of days ago a survey which showed that a sizeable percentage of Montreal municipal employees live outside the city, got me thinking about the problems people of modest means run into when buying a house here.

Obviously, I'm not the only one concerned because the city's has just announced increased subsidies to couples and families buying their first house in the city. The subsidies aren't a new thing--previously families with at least on child got a subsidy of $10,000 for first-time house buyers on houses including condos worth less than $265,000. Now, though, the subsidy goes up to $12,500 and the maximum to $295,00. Childless households are eligible for a one-time grant of $4,500 to buy homes worth a maximum of $235,000.

In addition, a bunch of measures designed to make the city more attractive to young families were announced. Among them is reserved parking places near parks and recreation facilities for families, and six months of free bus and Metro service for one person in the family who buys the basic Opus card.

"If you really calculate the investment that you have to make if you go to the suburbs, you gotta realize that you need a second or even a third car," Mayor Gérald Tremblay said at a news conference on Sunday. "If you calculate that, it means you could invest $80,000 more in the purchase of a property in Montreal." In February the median price of a single family home in the Montreal area was about $245,000, with higher prices in the center of the city.

Of course, there's a certain irony in calling these sort of prices, "housing for people of modest means." But unfortunately that's the way it is. A family or a couple need to have two salaries or one really good one to pay for decent housing. A good day care program is also needed if you want to put good housing within the reach of the young.

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