Five first-time homeowners have officially moved into their new homes through the Community Housing Initiative Program (CHIP) pilot.
For Rozelle Sagucil, this program is a blessing. Sagucil said she has moved about 10 times since arriving in the Border City six years ago.
“It’s the nicest home that I’ve ever had,” she said, calling her new place at Braehill Condominiums a classic, high-end unit.
The pilot program started taking applicants after being launched in October.
Patrick Lancaster, general manager of community and cultural services, said it’s important for Lloydminster because it gave five locals an extra little boost they needed to become homeowners.
“A lot of our applicants who applied for the program were struggling to get that last little leg up to get their down payment together,” he said. “This is very exciting for us and for them.”
How the program worked is through a number of partners, an around $10,000 down payment was made available to five successful applicants for the new condo units.
The applicant was expected to contribute 24 per cent of the sum, totalling $2,500 and the remainder was provided by the city ($2,850), the Saskatchewan Affordable Home Ownership Program ($2,321), and founding community partners — including Glencoe Developments Inc. Musgrave Agencies and Synergy Credit Union — contributed the remaining $2,850 for the units.
The provincial dollars are managed by an organization called HeadStart on a Home.
Wanda Hunchak, with Westcap Management Ltd. and HeadStart, said the group has provided nearly $290 million across Saskatchewan to construct 644 homes for families.
“Entry-level housing has become quite an issue here in our province as we grow and as our community grows,” she said during the presentation earlier this week. “We don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing because we’re dealing with it.”
Hunchak added she’s never seen anything like the CHIP initiative in Saskatchewan before and called the program “groundbreaking.”
Lloydminster MLA Tim McMillan said homeownership programs like CHIP are good for the community.
“When all people along the income spectrum have a shot at home ownership, I think that strengthens the community and it’s good for Lloydminster,” he said. “Having the ability to work with the city who comes to table with very meaningful dollars on the down payment side really gets a lot of people over the hurdle.
With available affordable housing being a contentious issue locally, McMillan stressed this five-unit project offers some the chance to transition from renting to homeownership.
“I think the ultimate solution is ensuring we have a capacity of building going on that keeps up with the demand,” he said. “I think that is a move towards addressing that, not perfectly, not necessary fast enough, but I think this is helpful in the short term.”
As for the future of the program, Lancaster noted the city would like to see it continue.
In order for that to happen, he explained the city needs builders to partner with the city to make that happen. “We do have funding from the province that will continue and we do have our existing corporate sponsors hoping to continue with us, so we are very optimistic,” he added.