Their vision was foundation of HOP

The Housing Opportunity Partnership (HOP) has lost two of its most outstanding contributors. It is with profound regret that WinnipegREALTORS® announces the passing in June of long-serving HOP president Tom Yauk and in September of HOP founder and first president Cliff Palmer. Both were passionate about furthering the cause of neighbourhood renewal in Winnipeg’s West End. 

Since its establishment in 1998, HOP has completed 70 homes and is credited with helping stabilize a neighbourhood in serious decline. In 1999, the average MLS® sale price in the area east of Alverstone and west of Balmoral was just $23,752. Today, the average sale price is just shy of $105,000. 

Yauk’s background was ideally suited to aid HOP in its mission of neighbourhood renewal by strengthening homeownership. He graduated with a masters degree in city planning from the University of Manitoba and was a recipient of a Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation fellowship. He then had a distinguished career with the city as commissioner of Planning and Community Services. Yauk served as president of the Canadian Association of Housing and Renewal Officials in Ottawa and was an adjunct professor at University of Manitoba’s department of city planning.

After his retirement, Yauk became a HOP volunteer director. Everyone involved in HOP appreciated Yauk’s insightful suggestions on changes needed to allow HOP and other housing initiatives to become more effective. While neighbourhood renewal is a serious endeavour, Yauk always found ways to lighten the subject matter. His humour mixed in with a good hearty laugh was ever-present.

It was Palmer’s vision in 1994 that provided the genesis of HOP. As the co-founder of Re/Max Real Estate in Winnipeg, Cliff Palmer brought business knowledge to HOP. He also served as president of the Winnipeg Real Estate Board in 1995, and was instrumental in founding the Charleswood Rotary Club.  

While his motivation for HOP was in part to turn around a neighbourhood in decline, his strongest desire was to help families to become homeowners. He said HOP’s purpose is to give someone a hand up, not a handout. 

Excerpts from a special tribute:

“It started in the spring of 1994 when Cliff heard a presentation from a REALTOR® representing the Columbus Housing Partnership at a national meeting of REALTORS® in Ottawa. Cliff heard how a housing partnership could help transform and stabilize a neighbourhood under severe stress through the acquisition of dilapidated homes and subsequent renovation. Cliff  immediately approached Pat Grabill, the REALTOR® from Columbus, Ohio, and asked him to send him everything he had on the Columbus Housing Partnership and what the Columbus Board of REALTORS® had done as an integral partner. 

“He then began to build a partnership group with the guidance and help of the Winnipeg Real Estate Board. There were countless meetings and obstacles along the way as the Real Estate Brokers Act required amending — this  to allow interest monies from brokers’ trust accounts to support neighbourhood housing renewal and the funding applications needing backing in partnership support with a solid business case and plan of action. Much progress occurred, with support for changes in legislation happening in 1996 and proposals for a not-for-profit housing partnership and its objectives being firmed up to garner government support. 

“In 1997, Cliff Palmer, REALTOR® David Deleeuw and the Winnipeg Real Estate Board’s Peter Squire went down to Columbus in 1997 to see first-hand what the Columbus Housing Partnership was accomplishing. Later that year, HOP received its first cheque of $129,000 from the Manitoba Securities Commission and subsequently received a Winnipeg Development Agreement Home Equity grant of $500,000 for the period from 1998 to 2000.

“Nothing deterred Cliff from reaching his goal. He just rolled up his sleeves and kept at it. He was always mindful of unique and special circumstances where we may have to go beyond our normal practices to accommodate a HOP applicant’s request.  

“In 1999, HOP was successful in helping Kathy Regnier acquire a HOP home. It was a terrific bungalow with hardwood floors and a brick façade, but still needed lots of renovation work inside. What was special in this instance was that we went ahead and built a special wheelchair ramp to enable her son Danny to access the home. She and her son could not have been more pleased the day they took possession. At the time, she said, ‘There was always something that stopped that dream and then I found HOP.’

“As you can appreciate, Cliff was like a proud father beaming that he had helped Kathy in attaining something very important to her and her family. Cliff never lost that desire to help others achieve the same dream. He was always trying to work with families in assisting them to get their house in order, so to speak, so they could qualify to buy a HOP home.

“Cliff Palmer had a real sense and understanding of wanting to take on a very real and meaningful cause. HOP is without doubt a testimony to a willingness to take an idea and a vision and make it a reality. And despite all the trials and tribulations, Cliff always looked at the positive side of things. He was more than prepared to stay the course as the end objective would make all the hard work and long journey that much more important and worthwhile.   

“At a special tribute event held in his honour in 2004, Cliff was presented with a beautiful rendering of the first home HOP completed on Alverstone. In a special salutation ... Mayor Glen Murray spoke of Cliff’s many years of service as a tireless promoter of homeownership possibilities in Winnipeg’s West End. Murray also referred to Cliff as an individual who always has the community’s interests at heart and whom we will be forever indebted to in his seminal role in founding and ensuring HOP would be a success.”