Being a landlord of choice

Being a landlord of choice

A few years ago I was meeting with a candidate for Mayor of Ottawa; I was making the case for affordable housing and why we need to create more subsidized units.

He asked me; if there is such a desperate need for more units, why are only 60% of CCOC’s apartments subsidized? What would your board say if the City offered more funding so that you can go 100% subsidized?

I was able to answer, with confidence, that we would say “no thanks”.

We’ve always been committed to mixed-income properties as a way to offer affordable housing without any danger of “ghettoization” or the stigma that some people attach to social housing.

But there’s another important reason, and I’ve been talking about it more often over the past year: quality.

Mixed income housing helps us to be a “landlord of choice”; it helps us know that we are providing good quality homes.

Low income people have few housing choices on the market. Those who are able to get a subsidized rent have even fewer choices that don’t jeopardize their subsidy.

Market-rent tenants, however, have more choices. Even if their income is modest, and even if the rental market is tight, they usually have more choices when finding a home. And they always have the option to leave and find a better one.

If CCOC can attract and keep tenants who have other choices, then we know we are providing good quality housing. And if we are providing good quality housing, at competitive rents, to the people who have other options, then we know that we are also providing good quality housing to low income people with fewer options.

That’s what we mean when we say we are a “landlord of choice”; people want to rent from us because we do a decent job, not because they have no other options.

If we can’t offer the kind of home that I would want my mother, my nephew, my daughter (or myself!) to live in, then we are not doing our job.