Posts

Finding New Ways To Address An Old Issue

A lack of affordable housing in Calgary is, sadly, nothing new. But with the help of a grant from AREF, Highbanks is looking to work with the real estate industry to find fresh, innovative ways to address this ongoing issue for young single women and their small children.

Highbanks helps a handful of families in Calgary by providing subsidized, safe and affordable places for them to live along with a number of other supports. “We serve young moms and their children who are homeless, at risk of being homeless or leaving profoundly traumatic situations,” says Krista Flint, the executive director at Highbanks. “We provide a housing first model with a focus on education and everything we do is sensitive to the deep trauma most of our girls have experienced.”

The mothers, many of whom haven’t finished high school, are required to go to school full time. Over the last 15 years, many of the young women have gone on to get post-secondary diplomas or degrees. Highbanks puts on community events and provides workshops and classes on parenting, coping and stress strategies, financial literacy, nutrition and life skills. A registered social worker refers women to other agencies and supports. It costs about $35,000 a year to help each family—an investment which Highbanks estimates saves taxpayers about $650,000 in publically-funded social services costs.

“We serve 11 families. We work very closely with organizations concerned with homelessness in Calgary. At any given time, we have about 30 young moms on our waiting list seeking help,” Flint says. “About 97 per cent of the young women who leave us go on to pay market rent and in some wonderful cases, own their own home.”

With a $21,000 grant from AREF, Highbanks will connect with experts and hire consultants to look at best practices for innovative affordable housing. They will build a strategy to work with landlords, property owners, builders and developers to find more housing for young families while also filling vacancies in the rental market.

“We are really excited to start thinking about how we might address the huge need. The money from AREF allows us to think in non-traditional ways about how we might be able to expand our reach,” says Flint. “We are really keen to break down the paradigm of ‘We need a capital campaign and we need to build something else,’ because there are so many wildly innovative models for spaces for social good and we’re really excited to lead that thinking in our sector.”

Habitat for Humanity celebrates completion of six new affordable homes in Bowness

NEWS RELEASE – Habitat for Humanity recently celebrated the completion of six new homes in Bowness that will provide affordable home ownership opportunities to six Calgary families.

“At Habitat, we know how difficult it is for families to break into the housing market,” said Gerrad Oishi, Habitat for Humanity Southern Alberta President and CEO. “That’s why we’re committed to working with our community to provide affordable home ownership opportunities for families. We’re so thankful for every sponsor, donor, community partner and volunteer who has stepped up to make affordable home ownership opportunities possible for these six families in Bowness.”

Lori Sigurdson, Minister of Seniors and Housing, was in attendance to bring greetings on behalf of the Government of Alberta, which has been a significant supporter of these homes in Bowness. Deborah Drever, MLA Calgary-Bow was also in attendance.

“That’s the cool thing about Habitat, is that it’s about community – everybody working together to create game-changing opportunities for these families,” said Sigurdson. “Our government is so proud to partner with Habitat for Humanity; we have a shared goal of creating more affordable housing in our province. I’m very proud to work with you and appreciate everything Habitat is doing.”

Every Habitat home is the result of community support. This project has been aided by financial contributions from numerous sponsors, donors and community partners, including the Government of Alberta, the CREB® Charitable Foundation, the Alberta Real Estate Foundation (AREF) and Hockey Helps the Homeless.

“It is humbling for the foundation to have been a part of this incredible build,” says Aneve MacKay-Lyons, CREB® Charitable Foundation manager. “Our Realtor members are at the forefront of everything we do and it is great to see their hands-on volunteer hours and our donation make a measurable difference to our community and working families.

The CREB® Charitable Foundation donated $50,000 toward these Bowness builds and the Alberta Real Estate Foundation (AREF) provided a $50,000 matching grant. This is the second collaborative build these three organizations have worked on together.

“We are proud to join forces with the CREB® Charitable Foundation on such a worthwhile project and support the wonderful work of Habitat for Humanity,” said Charlie Ponde, AREF chair. “Congratulations to the families on your new home and all of the memories that it will soon house.”

In addition to financial support, many tradespeople, contractors and suppliers stepped forward to offer donations of building materials and expert labour, along with more than 13,000 volunteer hours.

Susan, mother to Judah and Hope, is a future Habitat homeowner in Bowness. For her family, home ownership brings hope to their lives, knowing that anything is possible.

“My children can have stability in their lives and will have a strong start on their journey towards successful living,” Susan said. “I am excited to dream new dreams with my children – to develop new skills, meet new people and to help and serve others in the same way.”

Each Habitat homeowner has contributed 500 volunteer hours as part of their partnership, and will purchase their homes at Fair Market Value through Habitat’s affordable mortgage, which means no down payment and no interest. Mortgage payments will be geared toward each family’s’ income and will never exceed 30 per cent of their total household income. This gives parents financial flexibility and the ability to build long-term stability for their children.

These six homes in Bowness are one of five Habitat developments in this community. Future developments include a four-plex, scheduled for completion in January 2018, and three five-plexes, scheduled for completion by January 2019.

New U of L study finds water issues a major concern of housing developers in the Calgary region

The final report of a study investigating challenges and solutions in acquiring water for housing development in the Calgary provides some insights into this critical issue.

Principal investigator, Dr. Lorraine Nicol of the University of Lethbridge issued the final report after analysing the findings from interviews with 15 major developers working in Rocky View County, M.D. Foothills and/or Okotoks. Challenges in acquiring water have housing developers in the Calgary region worried about the effects on their industry and real estate, on home buyers and the economy in general.

The study found:

  • 100% of developers interviewed believe there are challenges in acquiring licensed water allocations for housing development in the three municipalities under study;
  • 73% stated acquiring a licensed water allocation is the ‘primary issue’ for developers;
  • 60% of interviewees believe water management in the region is political, to the detriment of the housing industry;
  • another 53% believe the source of the problem also relates to government processes;
  • 87% of developers believe water challenges are having a negative effect on the industry, either now or in the future;
  • two-thirds of developers say the cost of acquiring water licenses increases the price of homes;
  • on average, approximately 200 homes sold yearly in the three municipalities under study comprised the resale of new homes. A 10% decline in houses constructed, by reducing the stock of homes, could translate in a decline of 20 houses hold; a 20% decline in new home construction could translate in a decline of 40 homes sold;

All developers believe a solution lies in working together as a region but there was no clear consensus on what type of regional model will work.

For more information about this study, visit the University of Lethbridge’s website here or Alberta WaterPortal’s Blog here.

AREF supports Habitat for Humanity Home at Neufeld Landing

On December 17th, nine families received keys to their Habitat for Humanity Home at Neufeld Landing, the largest Habitat Build in Canadian history.

For the last 25 years, the Foundation has strived to support initiatives that make a difference in the industry and in the lives of Albertans. As such, we are proud to be a partner on the Habitat for Humanity Home at Neufeld Landing and support the vital work of Habitat for Humanity Edmonton.

When presenting at the dedication ceremony, Chair Elect Charlie Ponde said, “The Alberta Real Estate Foundation would like to thank the REALTORS Community Foundation for funding this project and partnering with us on this build. This is the fourth partnership build we have been involved in with the REALTORS Community Foundation and we look forward to investing in future meaningful projects with them.”

Congratulations to the nine families on their new home and all of the memories that it will soon house.

For a short video of the Neufeld Landing Home Dedication Ceremony please see below: