UBC affordable housing program targets top academic talent

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Media Release February 4, 2014

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The University of British Columbia’s Board of Governors has approved two pilot home ownership options for faculty to improve the university’s ability to retain and attract top talent to Vancouver despite its often prohibitive housing market.

This faculty housing program is part of the university’s Housing Action Plan adopted in September 2012, an initiative championed by president and vice-chancellor Stephen Toope to address current affordable housing challenges for students and staff, as well as faculty recruitment and retention.

“Some of the most promising scholars tell us they would love to be part of UBC, one of the top-ranked research universities globally,” said Toope. “Housing prices are too often the deal-breaker. Today, we have something that will help tip the scales in UBC’s favour.”

Under the two pilot options, UBC will offer up to 150 housing units or loans over three years for approved tenured and tenure-track faculty, in order to purchase housing on UBC’s Vancouver campus.

The first pilot option offers housing units at 33 per cent below benchmark prices for similar units available on the open market in Vancouver. The other pilot option is a second mortgage loan program.

The faculty housing program is the culmination of a two-year effort by the Community Planning Task Group of the Board, chaired by faculty-elected member Nassif Ghoussoub who is also a professor of mathematics. “This was the last,critical piece of the puzzle,” said Ghoussoub. “We invited over 3,000 faculty members to comment and today’s options owe much to what we heard from them.”

In addition to the pilot options, the board also approved a set of policies to guide faculty eligibility, allocation, and occupancy for the units or loans.

Application to both faculty housing pilot options opens in March 2014 with the launch of a dedicated website.

BACKGROUND

UBC Housing Action Plan

The University Community on Campus – UBC’s Housing Action Plan (HAP), was launched in September 2012 and is a comprehensive plan to improve housing affordability and choice on the Vancouver campus for faculty, staff and students. The faculty home ownership pilot program is one 19 policies in the HAP. As a result of this and other policies within the Plan, UBC will be the only Lower Mainland employer to offer significant levels of restricted housing to employees, and one of the world’s first universities to offer non-profit housing to low-income staff. UBC is also committed to building enough student housing to meet the demand through the Student Housing Financing Endowment, and The University Community on Campus – UBC’s Housing Action Plan additionally commits to further supporting the student experience through new housing and advocacy programs.

Faculty housing – capped appreciation option:

The first pilot option offers, to approved faculty, housing units at 33 per cent lower than benchmark prices for similar units available on the Vancouver open market. Campus units purchased under this option must be sold back to approved faculty at 33 per cent below benchmark prices at the time of resale (or at the original purchase price plus the annual average faculty salary index over the time the unit was owned prior to resale, whichever is less). This will ensure that this ownership option remains available and affordable for future generations of faculty.

Faculty housing – second mortgage loan option:

The second pilot option is a second mortgage loan program for approved faculty. The loans are for 33 per cent of the price of a new home in specific on-campus developments, up to a maximum of $330,000 for the second mortgage, to be repaid in 30 years or earlier if a change in faculty eligibility occurs. The loan does not require monthly or annual interest payments, however, the repayment amount is 33% of the resale price.

Eligibility:

The two new pilot options will be offered based on demand. Applications will be reviewed by a University Faculty Housing Allocation Committee, to be chaired by the university’s Provost. Units will be allocated according to strategic goals and priorities of UBC and its faculties.

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