Helping solve the affordability crisis one assignment at a time

by Neil Sharma on 20 Dec 2017
Townline has watched housing in Metro Vancouver grow further and further out of reach for the many, and decided to do something about it.

The Vancouver-based builder has decided to donate every last assignment fee from all of its developments to affordable housing initiatives in the projects’ respective neighbourhoods.  Assignments from the company’s condo development in Richmond, Calla at the Gardens, totalling $46,485 will be donated to the City of Richmond’s Affordable Housing Reserve Fund.

Townline charges 1.5% on assignment fees, and according to the company’s vice president of sales and marketing, Chris Colbeck, helping solve the region’s unaffordability crisis is more important than its bottom line.

“With all the media on assignments and the affordability crisis in Vancouver, we thought as a company that this would be a good thing to do and to challenge other developers to do something similar,” Colbeck told REP. “For us, our policy is to take the assignment fee, which has never been a profit centre for us, and turn it into something good. We donate it to social needs groups or affordability programs within the community that the project is located.”

There have only been five assignments from Calla, but they carry hefty price tags, all of which are going towards providing housing for Richmond residents.

“Affordability is an issue throughout Metro Vancouver,” said Colbeck. “It’s a big topic, and at Townline there are a variety of projects built for different target markets. There are other projects we’ve done that have been more for move-up buyers and first-time buyers, but affordability throughout Metro Vancouver is similar to back east and has become a problem with how prices have escalated over the last few years.”

Townline also builds purpose-built rental buildings, which Vancouver needs more of, considering its vacancy rate is below 1%. While Colbeck says Townline is doing the best it can to pump as many rental units into the city as it possibly can, it has found other ways to help solve some of the city’s housing problems.

“A lot of developers hold assignment fees for themselves, but we’re not in business to collect assignment fees, nor do we encourage them in our developments,” he said. “Our policy is to do some social good with the fees collected.”

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