Jessica Thompson could not believe it when Mayor Naheed Nenshi handed her keys to her new condo on Tuesday. She did not expect this to come for another 10 years.
A growing number of Calgary residents are in what is called the “affordability gap.” Thompson, like many others in her mid-level income bracket, are ineligible for subsidized housing but do not earn enough to save for the minimum down.
A local, municipality-owned company, Attainable Homes Calgary Corp., is trying to change that for potential homebuyers, by partnering with local Calgary builders, to provide affordable homes to people like Thompson. They do this by assisting the homebuyer with the down payment in exchange for a portion of the equity in the home.
Thompson is delighted that her new 2 bedroom home in SkyView Ranch, comes with an en-suite laundry but is more pleased to have the opportunity to own her own home for herself and her 18 month old son, Nathan.
Thompson is very pleased to think that she no longer has to worry about increases in her rent, or finding a new, affordable home to live in. She said she is paying $200 – $300 less a month for a mortgage than she paid in rent.
SkyWest condominiums have 56 units that are being sold by Attainable Homes through their partnership with Truman Homes.
Even though, Attainable Homes is a licensed, non-profit company, the units are in no way subsidized by taxpayers.
To qualify for subsidized assistance from Attainable Homes, Calgary home buyers must have an annual household income of less than $80,000 and be able to provide at least a $2,000 down payment. They also must be qualified for a mortgage.
The Calgary real estate market has seen the average price of a single-family home increase to $450,000, and condominiums are now topping $291,000. This leaves the people who seek the help of Attainable Homes having difficulty making the minimum 5% down payment required for a mortgage, CEO David Watson said. He also added that workers’ salaries are not increasing at the same rate.
Attainable Homes was founded in 2009 through contributions of $million each from the province of Alberta and the city of Calgary, but is designed to be self-sufficient. The company regains its money when the homeowner sells.
Attainable Homes has sold 230 homes to Calgary home buyers in local areas such as Beacon Heights and Deer Ridge. Of this total, 194 homes are currently occupied, filling a pre-existing market.
Attainable Homes has built its portfolio by purchasing in bulk from builders of local projects, but they are planning to develop its own properties by attaining land that has been granted by the city.
Mayor Nenshi, who is a board member of Attainable Homes, said that they discovered that many builders have pre-existing inventory and are quite interested in entering a partnership such as the one with Attainable Homes. He further stated that the initiatives of Attainable Homes are vital to the city’s 10-year plan to eliminate homelessness.