Live near work, get a house deal

September 28, 2009San Grewal

{{GA_Article.Images.Alttext$}}David Oille weaves around a taxi stopped between lanes on Adelaide St. west of Bay.

RENÉ JOHNSTON/TORONTO STAR

Our ancestors who did their work right outside their door would think the typical commute of today’s urban worker is ridiculous. That daily grind contributes to sprawl, traffic congestion and pollution while cutting into time for what we would rather be doing.

So why not live where you work?

That’s what officials of Newark, N.J., thought. So, six weeks ago a new program, in conjunction with a state-run plan, was offered to would-be residents.

For people working in Newark, the “Live Where You Work” program provides a low-interest 30-year mortgage through the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency if they buy a residence in the city.

Other incentives include a grant for up to 5 per cent of the down payment and closing cost of the mortgage, and flexible financing terms through the state agency.

The program cannot be used for single-family residences that cost more than $429,619 (U.S.) or by households with incomes over $100,740.

“There are two objectives,” says Marge Della Vecchia, the agency’s executive director. “We want to promote … responsible home ownership. And we want to help people be more efficient and environmentally sustainable not just with the light bulbs they buy, but with their commuting patterns.”

If residents move away from Newark after already receiving the mortgage and the other benefits, Della Vecchia says the mortgage is broken without penalty and no repayment is expected.

She says other incentives, such as a New Jersey Transit pass subsidy, are being considered for people in the program.

“There’s a lot of creative initiatives happening for smart growth,” says Cherise Burda, Ontario director of the Pembina Institute, a non-profit organization that conducts research on sustainable development.

Burda says while there’s no similar program around the GTA, she thinks the Newark initiative would be perfect for Toronto, or a suburb such as Markham.

“There are a lot of large businesses there because of the cheaper taxes and development subsidies. This type of policy would encourage people to not just work there, but live there as well.”

Urban Studies is a regular feature about initiatives in cities around the world.

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6 thoughts on “Live near work, get a house deal

  1. Cristina Moldoveanu-Constantinescu:
    Because in a way is encouraging limitation… Besides, the situation presented in the article is a bit different as they’re talking about people working in Newark while living in… New York… maybe? But generally speaking, people live in the suburbs and work downtown… Can you imagine what would happen if everybody working downtown would also … See Morelive there?!!? And with the economy nowadays, what are the chances that all the members of a family would work within a certain radius?… How near is near?… How many people would really qualify for this?… and I could go on forever and ever with this…:-)

  2. Your argument holds no water my friend, I am disappointed in your argument in fact, your argument made me sad–is that all you got? I think you just don’t wish that your sister lives too close to you, and so you are waving the flag for Airdrie. What the heck. “Live close to work—>be rewarded” And you oppose this? They don’t ALL have to live … See Moredowntown silly, just “CLOSE TO WORK”–who says everyone works downtown in a suit and tie? some people are bus drivers so if they live close to the bus garage, they’d get credit, similar to postal workers and the post office….it’s about eliminating stupid commutes and commuters, and you are against this? As for family members, it’s not like you’d be PUNISHED for not doing so, just incentive TO DO SO, so say the wife lives real close, she’d get credit for it, the hubby wouldn’t, or would, just not as much…? I think it’s great and wondered about a scheme like this before–it could be tax credit, mortgage credit, who knows…

  3. Cristina Moldoveanu-Constantinescu
    Oh come on, you don’t solve the commute problem with this! The whole commute problem comes from actually building and developing cities without much thinking. You need a self-sustained neighborhood to do that with schools and stores and businesses in walking distance, with streets where you can actually walk and not having to take the car although… See More is 2-5 min away… Sure, I don’t mind, give me money cause I already live close to work, but really, that’s just another hands waving solution…

    And, yeah, not EVERYBODY works downtown in a suit and tie, but a large percentage does… and btw, what do you do with people who don’t have a stable place of work, like independent artists, teachers, etc… They sure need the extra money for a house… Oh, and the ones that are contractors… in theory, they work from home (or their base is at home) but in practice they go to work somewhere… Should they just be rewarded while they still leave their carbon print?!!?

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