Ponoka-area families looking to become first-time homeowners may be eligible for a partnership with Habitat for Humanity.
Habitat for Humanity Red Deer is looking to break ground on a two-unit duplex in Ponoka in spring, 2024, and is currently looking for applicants.
Habitat Red Deer held a family information session at the Hudson’s Green Nature and Activity Centre on Sept. 12.
Family services and officer manager Aspen Boone-Windrim and Red Deer region CEO Karen Vavrek explained the details of the Affordable Homeownership Program.
Contrary to common misconception, Habitat for Humanity doesn’t give away free houses.
“It’s a hand up, not a hand out,” said Boone-Windrim.
Habitat for Humanity looks at the whole family picture, viewing home ownership as an environment that generates financial success, a higher quality of life and generational transformation.
Habitat aims to “build strength, stability and self-reliance through affordable homeownership” by partnering with selected families to provide a no down-payment, no-interest mortgage.
A committee selects partner families based on specific criteria, including (but not limited to), ability to pay back the mortgage, the need for decent, affordable housing and willingness to partner with Habitat Red Deer.
Families must have at least one dependent under 18 or elderly relatives living in the home to qualify. They also have to complete a non-negotiable 500 hours of volunteer hours before Habitat Red Deer will sign mortgage documents with the applicant.
The qualifying income bracket is a gross annual household income of $45,000 to $70,000. The upper limit may be slightly increased for families of five or more people.
It was noted the income level is based on market research, and lower income families may not be able to afford the costs of home maintenance or have the ability to pay back the mortgage.
Mortgage amortizations are comparable to the market, at usually 25 years, to keep payments manageable.
A typical Habitat build is 1,800 square feet, three bedrooms and one-and-a-half bathrooms.
Builds in the past five years were appraised at $250,000 to $275,000, however, with the rising cost of construction, the market value of a unit for the Ponoka project maybe around $360,000.
Vavrek added Habitat aims to never exceed the $400,000 ceiling for a build.
The mortgage payments will never exceed 30 per cent of the family’s gross income and are reviewed annually, or more often if needed.
The presenters added the goal of Habitat for Humanity is these units will be a starting place for families on the homeownership continuum, not a forever home.
It was noted most families move on after seven or 10 years, after they’ve accumulated enough home equity to upgrade, which is what they like to see.
While there is currently no deadline to apply for the Ponoka housing project, ideally partner families would be selected no later than March 1, 2024.
Once selected, families can begin their volunteer hours so they have plenty of time to complete them by the time their homes are move-in ready.
Volunteer hours can be completed in a variety of ways, including helping on the build or working at a promotional event. A certain number of the hours can be filled by volunteering for other community organizations or even be completed by other family members and friends.
“We really do try to give back to the community as our families get involved in the community,” said Boone-Windrim.
“Ideally we want to support families already living in Ponoka,” said Vavrek, adding eligible applications from surrounding communities may also be considered.
Attendance at a family information session is required to submit an application.
There will be an online information session held over Zoom on Sept. 21, from 6 to 7 p.m.
To register, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Town of Ponoka is donating the land for the future Habitat build site.
During their regular meeting on Sept. 12, Ponoka town council voted to transfer town-owned Lot 3, Block 41, Plan 1544HW (5406 55 St.) to Habitat for Humanity Red Deer for its affordable housing project.
Habitat Red Deer is hoping to break ground in the spring and complete the units by the end of 2024.
Since they began in 1994, Habitat Red Deer has built 46 homes in central Alberta.
They recently completed units in Blackfalds and are currently framing four units in the Evergreen subdivision in Red Deer.