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CANDIDATES Q and A: Can you help first-time homebuyers?

Local candidates offer ideas on how to help first-time homebuyers in the volatile housing market
First time Cambridge home buyers Eve and Adam Faber.

Over the next two weeks, CambridgeToday will run a series of articles in which candidates in the Kitchener South-Hespeler and Cambridge ridings will address key issues in the upcoming election.

We have asked each candidate to provide answers to 10 questions which will then be shared with our readers, one at a time, in the days leading up to the election.

In Cambridge there are five candidates, including incumbent Belinda Karahalios. 

In Kitchener South-Hespeler, which does not have an incumbent in the running, there are six candidates. 

Candidates whose answers do not appear below did not respond to our request.

Here is our fourth question of candidates:

How would you help young people buy their first home?

Brian Riddell - PC - Cambridge

Rebuild Ontario’s economy, creating good paying jobs through skills training while keeping costs down for families.

Carla Johnson - Green - Cambridge

One of the big reasons I was drawn to the Green Party of Ontario is because we have such well thought-through platforms. We are visionary.

We look beyond the four-year election cycle with ideas that will shape our province for 10, 20 and 50 years down the road. It is short-term thinking that has created this problem and we need long-term thinking to get us out.

I am proud to share the Green Party of Ontario has given this a lot of thought in its platform.

The GPO wants to create more pathways to ownership and our platform states the following:

• Allow single family dwellings to be divided into multiple condominium units to create more attainable home ownership opportunities within existing neighbourhoods.

• End blind bidding to ensure that the home purchase process is transparent.

• Make home inspections mandatory, at the seller’s expense, to save new homebuyers money on unexpected repairs.

• Consult on and develop a down payment support program to help low and middle income first-time homebuyers.

• Develop and support alternative home ownership pilot programs such as co-housing, tiny homes, and rent-to-own to assist low and middle income first-time homebuyers.

• Increase incentives and streamline the application process for first-time homeowners to add affordable rental units to their primary residence to help pay down their mortgage.

Surekha Shenoy - Liberal - Cambridge

The Liberal plan will create a new Ontario Home Building Corporation to finance and build housing of all types, end the wait list for social and supportive housing, and build affordable homes for first-time buyers. We will put families back at the centre of housing planning and will double the pace of home building this year, keeping that pace until we have built 1.5 million homes.

We will work quickly, together with municipal partners to end exclusionary zoning policies and allow homes with up to three units and two storeys to be built in residential areas across our province – with this permission also extending to secondary and laneway suites.

We’ll provide renters with a path to ownership and create a legal framework that protects renters to opt into rent-to-own agreements.

And we’ll double the pace of home building to help both renters and first-time home buyers.

An Ontario Liberal government will get at least 1.5 million new homes built in Ontario over the next 10 years – doubling the pace of building from the past decade.

This ambitious target is what experts say we need to keep up with population growth and bring affordability back to Ontario’s housing market.

We’ll build at least 138,000 new deeply affordable homes – including much-needed supportive housing and homes for Indigenous peoples – as well as retain and repair tens of thousands of existing affordable homes. Every dollar invested in housing results in $1.40 in economic growth and our housing plan will create an estimated 150,000 jobs per year.

Belinda Karahalios - New Blue - Cambridge

Young people like Ontarians of any age, need good paying jobs where their salaries will increase, taxes will decrease, and the costs of goods remain stable.

We need to slash the regulatory burden on new homes being built so the number of homes can keep pace with those looking to buy a home.

Finally, we need to hold the Justin Trudeau federal government accountable if they increase the number of individuals moving to Canada without a plan in place to accommodate them with a sustainable supply in places to live in Ontario – where most new Canadians move to.

Marjorie Knight - NDP - Cambridge

For families in Ontario, many are seeing their dream of purchasing their first home slip further and further away. Conservatives and Liberal governments made the housing crisis worse and worse. We built homes that people could not afford and created loopholes that benefited their developer buddies. 

Buying a home should not be out of reach for hardworking families. Families should be able to afford a good home, in the community they love. We’re going to help families buy a home by giving them 10 percent of the purchase price for their down payment. This way previous generations of Ontarians can have a chance to put down roots and watch them grow.

We’ll end exclusionary zoning, increasing the supply of housing options that are affordable, in the complete communities where people want to live, while holding the line on costly sprawl. We will encourage responsible development within existing urban boundaries, while protecting farmland and natural heritage from wasteful sprawl.

This includes aligning growth with transit investments and updating zoning rules to enable the construction of more affordable “missing middle” housing – like duplexes, triplexes and townhomes. 

Joanne Weston - NDP - Kitchener South-Hespeler

As a mother of three young adults, the dream of buying a home one day comes up at our dinner table often. Buying your first home is a dream that has become more and more unrealistic for young people in Ontario. Families and first time home buyers are often pushed out of the opportunity to buy a home by deep-pocketed speculators and investors.

Rather than focusing on building affordable homes, Ontario’s planning rules and policies have instead enabled costly developments on farmland controlled by developers and land speculators. There hasn’t been nearly enough planning for housing options that are affordable close to economic, service and social opportunities in existing communities. 

The NDP is making it easier to buy a home, and strengthening home buyers' protections. We will implement a home equity plan that will provide up to 10 percent of the purchase price for your down payment. We’ll also increase the supply of homes you can afford by helping people create basement apartments, laneway houses and granny flats; updating land use planning rules; eliminating mandatory parking minimums; and more. 

Everyone deserves a good, stable place to call home – a place they can afford. 

David Weber - Green - Kitchener South-Hespeler

We must first of all stop the commodification of housing by Canadian owned Real Estate Investment Trusts, which are the major part of the problem being ignored by the old political parties making housing out of reach for most Ontarians.

We must level the playing field. Additionally, we must end the blind bidding process in home purchase offers.

We must also offer other affordable housing options so that people can have money left at the end of the month to save for a home down-payment.