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Attainable Homes program facing new challenges as Calgary housing market drops

Set up in 2009, Attainable Homes provides funding so people can meet the five per cent threshold for a down payment.
Set up in 2009, Attainable Homes provides funding so people can meet the five per cent threshold for a down payment. Global News

A program that helps working Calgarians buy their own home is facing a number of challenges from regulatory changes and the drop in the Calgary housing market.

Set up in 2009, Attainable Homes provides funding so people can meet the five per cent threshold for a down payment. People are required to put down $2,000 and the organization provides the rest.

Attainable Homes recoups the money when the homeowner sells, getting a piece of the equity as a result of the sale but with lower prices in the housing market, that means lower profits, if any.

“Our challenge in the current market is different than it was three to five years ago,” said Elizabeth Huculak, interim president and CEO of Attainable Homes.

She said the stress test brought in by federal regulators to cool the housing markets in Vancouver and Toronto has also had a significant impact.

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“In principle, that’s a great thing to do for people who are first-time buyers but in a market like Calgary where we have been struggling a little bit, that stress test has meant that the ability to qualify for that first mortgage is even more difficult and in some cases squeezing some people out of the market.”

Attainable Housing told the city of Calgary’s audit committee earlier this week that it had a $1.8-million operating deficit for 2017.

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Huckulak said the organization is looking at ways of isolating itself from market and regulatory factors outside of its control and will look at a different strategy in acquiring properties.

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“The affordability challenge was that we had rising prices very quickly and tried to acquire property to protect them from rising prices but in the current market we believe we have a role to play in building community, ensuring the affordable homes we’re trying to incite are in communities that have transit, are energy-efficient, that are durable and that are accessible.”

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