A year ago, the Province of Manitoba put out a call for applications for the “Creating Opportunities for Affordable Homeownership Via Homebuyer Assistance Program” through Manitoba Housing.  Manitoba Housing was seeking Proposals from qualified organizations interested in creating homeownership opportunities for low- to moderate-income families in Manitoba. 

The City of Morden through the Morden Community Development Corporation (MCDC) qualified for the grant. They have created their program called the Home Buyers Assistance Program where first-time home buyers have an opportunity to qualify for a one-time down payment, of up to $15,500 for a home worth no more than $275, 000. 

MCDC Economic Development Officer Jason Dyck shared his reaction to the news. 

"We are pumped to have this support from the province and to be able to address an issue that is on a lot of people's minds right now. This is a really nice way to support affordability in a way that people usually don't think of. Typically, they think of government-supported rental units, but housing needs are complex and diverse. And they range from homelessness to indebtedness on different sides of the spectrum. We're pleased to be working with the province to be able to support individuals in our community at different points on the housing needs spectrum." 

While there are different factors required to qualify for the 5-year earned forgivable loan, Dyck explained who this program will benefit. 

"The folks who are, in particular, in a rental situation right now and have for one reason or another, been unable to put the cash away for a down payment. Whether it's folks who are paying more in rent right now than they would be on a mortgage or folks who are new to homeownership needs, or maybe had a new child or something in their family, because you need to have at least one dependent in order to qualify for the programs, is really the target audience for this program." 

According to the press release from the City of Morden, the program provides support with home ownership education sessions for successful applicants to ensure they have the information needed to have a sustainable and thriving experience in their new home. 

Dyck confirmed in many cases renters’ payments can be larger than a mortgage payment. 

"There's countless situations where people are paying more in our rental situation to a landlord than they would be paying off a mortgage and utilities and socking some away for repairs and an ownership situation. And the latter of those two you're building equity every single month because that is the kind of thing you can pass down to your kids." 

Recently due to overwhelming demand, the deadline was moved ahead to December 6th, for the approximately seven potential grants.

Dyck explained why. 

"There's an evaluation process that takes place as well, and we've had more than the seven applicants, far more than the seven applicants, and we just want to make sure that everyone has a chance to get access to it. We realized that once we open this up and got the word out there that there were a lot more people than we had originally anticipated that are interested in this program, and so we want to make sure as many people as possible are able to apply because not all of them will qualify." 

Successful applicants must make less than $84, 600, have a dependent other than their spouse, and be preapproved for a mortgage.  

Housing availability and wastewater limitations put on new housing developments are challenges facing Morden, this may have an impact on the number of successful applicants, but Dyck said there may be a third call for applications. 

In October, at the election forum held in Morden, the topic of affordable housing received the most questions than any other category. 

Homes under construction.

According to a press release from the City of Morden, Mayor Burley noted, “Home ownership is a significant indicator of personal security. Housing affordability was a major theme of the 2022 election cycle and is a theme that the City of Morden is keen to deliver on. This home-buyer assistance program is a great step in addressing hurdles affecting many of our hard-working households and will have a substantially positive effect on our community. Morden's Council is thankful to the Board of MCDC and the Province of Manitoba for their partnership in creating a program that has the potential of delivering immediate results on housing affordability.” 

Dyck noted applicants are thankful for the opportunity to apply, noting some people never thought there would be an opportunity for them to own a home or thought it would only be possible in 10 or more years from now.

If anyone has any further questions about the qualifications and or needs assistance filling out an application should email Business Development Specialist Liz Reimer at lreimer@mymorden.ca.