HOP prototype for Hamilton program

The Winnipeg Real Estate Board has always been proud of its involvement in affordable housing, which started with the sponsorship of a home in Habitat for Humanity’s Jimmy Carter Building Blitz in 1993. A few years later the WREB brought a number of key housing stakeholders together to form the Housing Opportunity Partnership in 1997.

From the beginning, one important objective of HOP was to be a prototype for REALTORS in other real estate markets throughout the nation. After all, its genesis came about from ideas and concepts gleaned from the Columbus Housing Partnership in Columbus, Ohio, a housing partnership spearheaded by the Columbus Board of REALTORS. 

The expertise and market savvy of REALTORS have been instrumental to the success of both REALTOR-led housing initiatives to provide affordable housing opportunities and neighbourhood renewal. Why couldn’t applications of either one be duplicated in some form or another in other parts of Canada!

HOP has always stayed true to its single-minded purpose of promoting homeownership as a cornerstone to stabilizing a neighbourhood and to provide a major opportunity for first-time buyers to build equity and a long-term investment. 

HOP has often been viewed as an acronym for “Home Ownership Program.” While it was never the intent to have a double meaning when the partnership was set up, it fortuitously does describe what HOP is all about.

Speaking of acronyms, HOAP, while not an offspring of HOP but looks similar, is a newer housing affordability initiative in Hamilton. The REALTORS Association of Hamilton-Burlington (RAHB) is taking a leading role in running this program with other partners. HOAP stands for Home Ownership Affordability Partnership. HOP can easily accommodate the A from HOAP since it targets low- to moderate-income buyers and provides them with down payment assistance to reduce the size of a mortgage and address affordability.

Interestingly, an early aspect of HOP which no longer applies has been incorporated into HOAP — a sweat equity requirement that Habitat for Humanity pioneered and still applies as an important part of its home buyers’ obligation. 

The following story (HOAP Completes Third Project) is written by the Canadian Real Estate Association. While different than HOP, key similarities are the promotion of homeownership, helping make the homes more affordable to those in need and support for rehabilitation of existing homes in need of repair.

HOAP completes third project

The Home Ownership Affordability Partnership, an initiative of the REALTORS Association of Hamilton-Burlington and other local community partners, has completed its third project in 12 months.

HOAP is a fairly new program that represents a unique solution to local affordable housing needs. Families who reside in social housing and have a desire and the financial means for securing affordable homeownership can apply for the program. 

Working with a REALTOR, the selected families identify residential properties within a price range that meets their needs and requirements. They then submit an “offer to purchase” for their respective dwellings with REALTOR advice and guidance.

“Project No. 3 is truly a crowning achievement; another significant milestone for HOAP,” said Conrad Zurini, a Stoney Creek REALTOR and HOAP committee member. “Not only has a third home been successfully converted into affordable housing for existing social housing tenants but it has also, more importantly, helped build self-worth by helping another family realize the Canadian dream of owning their home.”

The families also have the option to apply for Residential Rehabilitation Assistance Program funding, which is a program financed by CMHC and delivered by the city of Hamilton. 

If renovations are needed, the selected families are required to provide 500 hours of sweat equity on their houses or other HOAP projects within three years of taking ownership of their houses. 

The Threshold School of Building is available to co-ordinate the renovation and rehabilitation of the dwellings and teach students and volunteers some building skills, if required.

“By forming a unique partnership and blend of resources, HOAP presents opportunities for these families to become homeowners and to build home equity,” said Zurini. 

“In turn, much needed social housing space becomes available for families presently on the waiting list, and who in many cases, are living on the margin of society.”

Other HOAP partners include the Halton-Hamilton Home Builders’ Association, Threshold School of Building, City Housing Hamilton and Scotiabank. Funding for this initiative has come from the city of Hamilton’s Housing Hamilton Innovations Fund, the RAHB and the Ontario Real Estate Association Foundation.

In addition, the listing sales representative, Peter Gligoric, and the buying sales representative, Zurini, donated part or all of their commission to this partnership.