JILLIAN AUSTIN/BRANDON SUN
Glen Kruck, regional director of the Canadian Mental Health Association, speaks about Brandon’s first STEPP house on Rosser Avenue East at its grand opening on Friday.
The new home on the 400-block of Rosser Avenue East is valued at $220,000 but will be sold to a low-income family for just $150,000.
It’s Brandon’s first Solutions to End Poverty Permanently (STEPP) home, a project designed with the goal of getting families out of the poverty cycle.
STEPP eligibility criteria• Must be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident and current resident of Brandon for 12 months prior to application.• Total current household income must not exceed $64,000.• Must be a first-time homeowner in Brandon.• Must be pre-approved by a lending institution for a $150,000 mortgage.Application requirements• Copy of most recent Notice of Assessment from Canada Revenue Agency for each adult in the household.• Written landlord reference.• Verification letter signed by employer for each working member of the household.• Two written personal/character references.• Mortage pre-approval from lender.Applications will be taken until Sept. 10 at the Brandon Affordable Housing Corporation office at city hall.» Brandon Sun
"The concept behind this is, we wanted to help people move from renting into home ownership, because with home ownership you develop equity over time," said Glen Kruck, regional director of the Canadian Mental Health Association.
"When you’re always renting, you are in a poverty trap because all your money is going to that landlord … Renting doesn’t get you anywhere on a long-term basis."
STEPP is a project launched by the CMHA, along with the Brandon Neighbourhood Renewal Corporation’s Brandon Energy Efficiency Program (BEEP).
It has been five years in the making and project organizers held a grand opening for the first house at 439 Rosser Ave. East on Friday.
"All I can say is, hallelujah," Kruck said to the crowd. "Four-and-a-half of (those years were) failed attempts, so we kept on pushing, kept on trying and that’s what you need to do. You need to keep working on it and not give up."
Kruck said it has been all of the community partnerships that have made the project finally succeed.
"What keeps us going is the fact that there are so many families and individuals in desperate need of housing, and we can’t give up on solving that problem," Kruck said.
The City of Brandon donated the land and the provincial government contributed to the funding, along with Brandon Area Community Foundation and Westoba Credit Union. Crocus Plains high school drafting students designed the home.
BNRC chair Leslie Allen said the STEPP home not only benefits the low-income family who will move in, but all of the BEEP participants who built the house. The program provides construction training to unskilled labourers seeking employment in the labour force.
"They have learned skills and they’re going to be able to take that (and now) have those employable skills," she said.
Kruck said STEPP addresses two major barriers for future homeowners — home affordability and down payments.
They’ve reduced the cost of the home by 32 per cent and STEPP families do not need a cash down payment.
"Because the homeowner needs to only take out a $150,000 mortgage, they can borrow against the full value of this house, which means their down payment is already provided in their equity," Kruck said.
Five more STEPP homes will be built on Rosser Avenue East — another single unit and two duplexes. The plan is to have the homes completed by the end of 2013. Applications are now being taken for the first house at the Brandon Affordable Housing Corporation office at city hall.
"Every journey starts with one step," Allen said. "This was our one step and we will continue to make these steps, and hopefully the more people that understand the philosophy behind this, the more other people are going to become interested in becoming involved."
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition July 7, 2012