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Housing authority reviews procedures

Controversial waitlist process gets second look



By Andrew Mitchell

An online survey on proposed changes to Whistler Housing Authority policies will remain open until Dec. 15, but the board of directors will have a chance to evaluate the comments made at four round table meetings and results from an earlier e-mail survey this Monday.

At issue are proposed changes to the waitlist process, the implementation of new Standard Charge Terms, property transfers to heirs, and the eligibility of local businesses to purchase units as staff housing.

The review of WHA policies got underway in August following a contentious public meeting to discuss changes to the WHA’s standard charge terms.

In the past, the appreciation formula for the majority of price-controlled WHA homes was tied to the Vancouver housing price index, which exploded in recent years with annual double digit growth. The average price of a Vancouver home in 2001 was between $360,000 and $420,000, climbing to between $600,000 and $660,000 through 2005.

The result was that WHA homes, created as an affordable option for residents, were being priced beyond reach of many Whistler employees. Due to the long WHA waitlist and limited supply, other residents were pressured to buy at the maximum resale value.

To address the issue, the WHA brought in a new policy that tied the appreciation rate of all new WHA homes and all homes tied to the Vancouver market that were sold after an implementation date to the Canadian Consumer Core Price Index, which is considered a more accurate measure of inflation.

While the change of Standard Charge Terms was the main topic discussed at the meeting, it became apparent that WHA owners and people on the waitlist had other issues as well. That prompted the WHA to begin a review of all policies and procedures, with the input of the public.

According to Marla Zucht, general manager of the WHA, the proposed policy changes on the online survey reflect comments made by the public at the round table meetings and in response to the e-mail survey.

“The round tables were excellent, 100 community members came out with a lot of energy and ideas,” she said. “We also got about 110 surveys completed, and we’re compiling that information for our board.

“What is on the website are the proposed changes, and what happens will depend on the public feedback and the board.”

Among the policy changes being considered:

• Retaining the “three strikes” policy for employees on the waitlist, with three new conditions — the home has to sell for the maximum resale value, the maximum resale value cannot exceed the amount of the applicants’ mortgage approval, and the home cannot be in substandard condition (beyond regular wear and tear).

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