Strengthening homeownership in the city’s West End

The Housing Opportunity Partnership (HOP) was established by WinnipegREALTORS® with the help of seed money from the Manitoba Securities Commission and a significant funding grant from the Winnipeg Development Agreement through the federal government.

Over the years, partnerships with all levels of government and the communities themselves have enabled HOP to purchase and renovate or build 90 affordable houses for resale to qualified low- and moderate-income families within Winnipeg’s West End neighbourhoods of Daniel McIntyre and Spence since 1998.

According to HOP’s mission statement, its goal is: “To commit to responsible community revitalization through strengthening homeownership opportunities for low- to moderate-income buyers”

HOP is incorporated as a non-profit organization with a voluntary board currently made up of seven directors.  HOP is supported by WinnipegREALTORS®, through in-kind services, such as meeting space, advice and promotion, and we contract with a local Realtor familiar with the West End housing market to facilitate land acquisition and home sales. 

Most recently, HOP has partnered with the Winnipeg Housing Rehabilitation Corporation to provide contract administration and project management services for our initiative.

HOP set itself apart from other affordable homeownership programs in Winnipeg by focusing on older neighbourhoods where housing stock is in need of significant repair or replacement, where the proportion of homeowners to renters has declined, and where divestment in the neighbourhood over several years has precipitated the perception of the neighbourhoods as being unsafe.

In carrying out HOP’s mission, we are setting an example for other housing initiatives in Winnipeg and elsewhere to bring back neighbourhoods that are losing their housing stock. In doing so, we are creating a good supply of affordable housing and helping to rejuvenate an entire community.

By focusing on the Spence and Daniel McIntyre neighbourhoods, we have been able to target streets where total rehabilitation or new builds has helped mitigate decline, encourage reinvestment from other property owners, and help transform local residents’ sense of safety and security through the infusion of new homeowners committed to stay and contribute to the neighbourhood over the long term.

HOP homeowners are keenly aware of their investment and want to ensure it is maintained and will appreciate over time.  By sticking to our homeownership thrust, we are successfully bringing a renewed commitment to the area through these new homeowners.

Owing to HOP’s success in helping rejuvenate Winnipeg West End neighbourhoods and the energy-efficient infill homes it has been able to build in the last number of years, there is now a healthy waiting list of future buyers — many of which are newcomers to our province —  who are keen to have the opportunity to purchase a HOP home.

HOP has a solid track record in making a real difference by providing cost-effective affordable housing solutions to Winnipeg’s inner-city housing issues, and HOP home buyers have been able to have their homeownership dreams come true.

“If it were not for the program, I wouldn’t be a homeowner.  I had looked at other affordable homes in the area but most of them were rundown or needed extensive renovations.  Being able to get into a new home was a huge break for me.  It’s a great program and I’m a homeowner because of it,”  said Sue-Ann Weitkowitz, a single parent mom and HOP homeowner.

Since its inception, HOP has:

•          Enabled 90 families to accomplish their dream of homeownership within Winnipeg’s West End neighbourhoods of Daniel McIntyre and Spence.

•          Invested over $12 million dollars towards rehabilitation and construction of affordable homes for low- and moderate-income first-time buyers.

•          Contributed significantly to increased assessment values, which has resulted in a higher return on investment and tax revenues for the city of Winnipeg and province of Manitoba.

HOP’s investment in Winnipeg’s West End up to now has been significant, but there is still work to do to remove derelict homes and replace them with new infills and new home buyers ready to commit to their neighbourhood

In large part, HOP’s success over the past few years has been due to Manitoba Housing’s Market Gap Funding Agreement.  Through this funding, HOP has been able to recoup the direct costs associated with each home by claiming the difference between the sale price of the home and the actual costs of the acquisition, renovation and/or construction, and administration. 

In this week’s provincial government throne speech, the government said:  “We will develop more social and affordable housing with our partners, and work to end homelessness”.

It is HOP’s hope that the provincial government will give serious thought and consideration to continuing to support HOP as its partner in another funding agreement.

HOP has proven it does make a difference in improving neighbourhood outcomes and changing people’s lives by giving them an opportunity to build a better quality of life through homeownership.