Calgary has an amazing spectrum of home programs, but the one that is perhaps the most unique to Calgary is “Attainable Homes Calgary Corporation (AHCC).” What is an attainable home you ask? David Watson, President & CEO of Attainable Homes like to refer to his team’s mandate as “we help everyday Calgarians with everyday jobs who qualify for a mortgage, but struggle to save for the down payment in Calgary’s market buy a home.” He is quick to add, “Attainable Homes is not subsidized housing and is a self sustaining program that receives no funding from the City of Calgary or any other government.”
How does it work?
On their website it says “We’re a non-profit organization and wholly owned subsidiary of The City of Calgary that works to deliver well-appointed, entry-level homes for Calgarians who have been caught in the city’s growing affordability gap.” This is a nice way of saying that after paying their rent many Calgarians have little room for saving money that could be used for a down payment even though their mortgage cost would be similar to their rental payments.
Attainable Homes helps people who qualify for a mortgage, meet maximum household income qualification and are willing to take a home education course by helping out with the down payment.
Calgarians with a maximum household income of $90,000 per annum for families and $80,000 for singles with no dependents who qualify for a mortgage with the bank, have assets of less than 20% of the purchase price of the home (up to maximum of $50,000) and have $2,000 to invest in a down payment qualify. More info at: http://ahcc.attainyourhome.com/ownership.php
Attainable Homes partners with builders and developers to obtain homes at a discounts and then pass on the savings to the homebuyers, with the caveat that when you sell your home AHCC get part of the appreciation. For example if you sell you home in 1 to 2 years you get to keep only 25% of any appreciation, after 2 to 3 years the appreciation is split 50/50 and after 3 years the home buyer gets to keep 75%.
Attainable Homes invests the money it makes from the appreciation back into the program. To date they have sold over 500 homes, in 19 different communities. A typical home is a 1 or 2 bedroom condo, or a 2 to 3 bedroom townhomes, all in the low $200,000 to mid $300,000. In 2014, 40% of the AHCC buyers had annual family household income between $50 and $65,000, and 80% were between 18 and 40 years of age.
- AHCC has been a pioneer in laneway housing with its funky Mount Pleasant project at the corner of 9th Street and 17th Avenue NW. It is being developed by Lexington Development Management and includes 25 homes, underground parking and an interior courtyard. Attainable Homes is proud to say that so far not a single development permit has been appealed.
- AHCC sales have increased every year since its inception with a 46% increase in 2014.
- AHCC currently has $6 million in shared equity that will be reinvested as owners sell their homes into the private market.
- Over 16,000 Calgarians have registered on their website to participate in the program and 4,050 individuals have taken their homeowner education program.
- Most of the homes to date have been in the suburbs; AHCC would like to work with developers and landowners to create more Attainable Homes in inner-city communities.
- Working with City and School Boards to identify underutilized land that would be ideal for residential development.
- Researching and identifying different economic models to broaden the program e.g. Land Trust
- Attracting more builders to consider Attainable Home program as part of their economic pro forma. For example, downtown and city centre condo builders could sell units in bulk to AHCC, as a means of reaching presales needs for financing.
AHCC conducts client surveys six weeks after homeowners take possession, first anniversary and an exist interview. 100% of the respondents said that their quality of life has improved since owning a home. 92% said that owning an attainable home has changed their outlook on the future.
For Ryan, Amanda and their three children it meant no more moving from one dilapidated rental apartment to another. Finally they could create a home for their children.
Richard White the urban strategist at Ground3 Architecture has written about urban design and urban living for over 25 years. Email Richard@ground3; follow @everydaytourist
This blog was first published in the Calgary Herald's New Condos section on April 4, 2015 titled " Attainable Homes unique to Calgary."