Original Published on Jun 16, 2022 at 11:26

By Jesse Boily, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

A Grande Prairie family was able to move into their new home with the help of Habitat for Humanity (HFH) Edmonton’s recent build of two new homes in the Swan City.

The new homes come from partnerships with the City of Grande Prairie, KCM Construction as well as the provincial and federal governments.

Twenty HFH properties have been built in Grande Prairie since 2020, with the newest duplex being finished in November 2021.

Angie and her son Cobus moved into their new home in November; Angie shared her troubles with home ownership.

Before the Habitat program, she said she was renting.

“When funding for the housing subsidy was no longer available, we moved into a low-income apartment building,” said Angie.

“Even though I work two jobs, we could not afford to save for a down payment for a home.”

She said the location of their apartment was frequented by drug users looking for a place to use, and they often would have to walk past them on their way to the parking lot to take her son to school.

“I know that Cobus deserved so much better than that,” said Angie.

“When you’re in that cycle of renting, it’s hard to get ahead, and Habitat is here to bridge that gap between renting and owning their own home,” said Amber Lachambre, Habitat for Humanity Edmonton vice president of sustainability and impact.

“The way the program works is that it is affordable homeownership,” she said.

“We have a buyback program where if a family chooses to do so, they could sell the home back to habitat and take the equity that they built up through the program.”

She said that the program focuses on helping families with children get ahead and out of the renting market.

“Habitat is uniquely positioned to empower families to transition from renting to owning so that they can focus on other meaningful goals in their lives outside of stable housing,” said Dr. Ann-Marie Reddy, Habitat for Humanity Edmonton president and CEO.

“Our families gain skills and confidence through the home ownership process, and we’re delighted that families in Grande Prairie are gaining much-needed stability in their lives through affordable homes.”

“There’s absolutely been an increase in need, and I think that’s just across the board in the housing market,” said Lachambre.

The city contributed land to the recent builds from Habitat.

“Grande Prairie city council congratulates Habitat for Humanity on the completion of their home building project,” said Jackie Clayton, Grande Prairie mayor.

“Their dedication to providing safe, affordable housing has a positive impact in our community, and we are encouraged to see the continued impact of this important organization.”

The federal government invested $125,000 into the two new homes in Grande Prairie as part of the Government of Canada’s National Housing Strategy.

The province put $200,000 towards the recent build.

Lachambre said there currently is a vacancy in Grande Prairie they are looking to fill.

Habitat home ownership is open to residents with a good credit score and an annual household income between $35,000 and $65,000.

Lachambre says what’s also unique about the program is they do not require a down payment.

“It’s very difficult with the cost of living nowadays to save up for that down payment,” she said.

Payments on the home are affordable based on 50 per cent of the home’s value to help the owners build equity with each payment.

Families also commit 500 hours of volunteer service to Habitat to support the program and other families.

Lachambre expects more properties to become available as people move on and go into the buyback program.

Locally there are 20 properties in Grande Prairie and one in Fairview.

Habitat is looking at other opportunities in surrounding municipalities in the South Peace if the land were to become available, but Lachambre noted that major centres like the city are where they find the highest use of its programming.

For more information and applications for the affordable homeownership program, go to hfh.org.

This item reprinted with permission from Town & Country News, Beaverlodge, Alberta