A success story in the inner city

The Housing Opportunity Partnership (HOP) is preparing a new basement  for its first infill house which will be relocated from 380 Langside St. to a vacant lot on 421 Victor St. 

The Contractor for the infill house is Inner City Renovation, or ICR, which has being doing exemplary work for HOP this year. ICR has completed retrofitting HOP homes at 502 Spence and 415 Furby in the Spence neighbourhood of Winnipeg’s West End. These homes were recently sold and the purchasers are now reaping the benefits of affordable homeownership. 

The Winnipeg Housing and Homelessness Initiative (WHHI), a partnership intended to address homelessness, to improve the conditions of existing homes and bring about neighbourhood revitalization, has also contributed to HOP’s success in the West End.

At a recent National Housing Day breakfast, housing renewal providers were told that the WHHI, since its inception in 2000, has invested more than $99 million into reducing homelessness and the creation of over 4,000 affordable housing units in Winnipeg. 

The funding support HOP has received from WHHI, created by an agreement between the federal, provincial and city governments, has been instrumental in two important ways. 

First, WHHI funds offset the market gap between what it costs HOP to acquire and refurbish at a reasonable carrying cost a dilapidated home so that it can be sold to a low- to moderate-income home buyer. Based on  provincial income criteria, government funding is not available to applicants with too high an income level. 

Second, the difference between HOP’s input costs — assisted by WHHI   — and the eventual proceeds from a sale, provides needed funds for a down-payment assistance program. The program is critical to potential buyers who may qualify to carry a mortgage but are unable to save enough for a home down payment. 

When these individuals are provided with the wherewithal to become homeowners , they are committed —like any other home buyer — to maintaining and protecting the most important  investment of their lifetime. 

As well, these new homeowners are more likely than renters  to get involved in community renewal efforts. They come to understand that the collective improvement of the housing stock will directly benefit their individual investment.

National Housing Day is an event to acknowledge the commendable efforts of housing providers and illustrate how successful affordable housing projects positively impact a community and its residents.

ICR’s role in neighbourhood revitalization was covered during an end of October tour to celebrate its fifth anniversary. It was extremely gratifying to see the progress made in the inner city through a sampling of ICR’s renovation work. Excerpts from a pamphlet handed out at the anniversary reported ICR has:

Completed more than 175 projects since start-up. 

Generated more than $6.5 million in earned revenue.

On average, created more than 25 full-time year-round jobs.

Paid out more than $2.5 million in wages and benefits to its employees.

Rejuvenated buildings in the inner city.

Contributed to the local economy by sourcing materials and services. 

Provided both formal and informal training to all its employees.

Benefitted more than 100 people (ICR employees) since start-up.

Supplied social and life-skill support to its employees. 

Significant projects completed over the past five years include:

Third floor of the Mountain Equipment Co-op Building on Portage Avenue for Manitoba Eco Network. 

EagleWing Early Education Centre, 49 Euclid Ave., for Sistars.

Office building, 80 Salter St., for SEED Winnipeg.

Education Centre, 509 Selkirk Ave., for Urban Circle Training Centre.

Social service centre, 591 Sherbrook Ave., for Neecheewam Project.

Architectural offices, 586 Main St., for Bridgman Collaborative.

Credit Union branch (Rivergrove) on North Main Street for  Assiniboine Credit Union.

Numerous residential houses in the North End for NEHP.

Several houses in Spence Neighbourhood for Housing Opportunity Partnership.