Re: Blighted streets no more

Thank you for the well written and timely article by James Wilt ( “Blighted streets no more” Jan. 10 2013 ) addressing the housing affordability issue in Calgary’s inner-city (specifically the East Village).

The issue of housing affordability is complex and requires creative out-of-the-box solutions. As a provider of attainable housing we would like to note that there are examples of successful home-grown solutions here in Calgary. Our mandate as a not-for-profit provider and a private sector developer is to leverage skills and expertise to be part of the affordable housing solution. We established a not-for-profit organization that utilizes a shared equity model to bridge the gap between the rental and home ownership market. Our program does not rely on taxpayer dollars nor does it require government or external subsidies. Our solution is long-term providing market quality homes to help moderate income earners build wealth through equity and home ownership.

With our soon-to-be-completed McPherson Place project we become the first partnership of a not-for-profit organization and a private sector company to deliver a market quality affordable shared equity product in Calgary. This 160-unit condominium development located in Bridgeland was sold out months prior to completion and we have a lengthy waiting list for the next project.

Our purchasers represent hard-working Calgarians and include artists nurses teachers and public sector employees. Our program is designed to assist individuals and families who presently rent and earn between 80 per cent and 120 per cent of Calgary’s mean average income. A qualified purchaser pays no down payment and will share in the ownership of their unit with the developer and the city of Calgary which lends the value of land for 10 years. Mortgage qualification is based on 65 per cent of the market value of the unit thus assisting purchasers who would otherwise not be able to afford the purchase.

We are proud of our collaborative approach and are eager to continue our partnership. Benefits to cities and communities are numerous and include the ability to leverage public land while protecting public assets increased diversity tenure and participation in community a more stable and satisfied workforce lower foreclosure rates and rejuvenation of older neighbourhoods. Additionally much-needed rental vacancies are created as people move from rental into affordable home ownership. We believe it is only through innovative public-private partnerships that Calgary will effectively meet the demands for affordable housing.

We have been actively pursuing new land opportunities to build more shared equity projects as it is clear that a high level of need exists and we are optimistic that we will obtain additional land in Calgary. The success of our program has attracted other municipalities in Canada and the U.S. and we are currently expanding into those markets.

We hope that articles such as the one in your publication bring a clearer picture to Calgarians about the issues of affordable housing in our city and that city council will be encouraged to build on and continue to source private sector solutions to affordable housing.

Yours truly

Dan Van Leeuwen President & CEO New Urban

Judy Hoad Chair INHOUSE Society