Part 2: Learn more about the Winnipeg organization that is helping make a newcomer family’s home ownership dreams come true.
A family of five newcomers to Canada is calling the Chalmers neighbourhood in Winnipeg home, thanks to a program that helps overcome financial barriers to homeownership.
Originally from Eritrea, Tsehaynesh Gulwet and Abraham Mengesteab, along with their three children, came to Canada over the past five years.
Living in a small Kennedy Street apartment, they saw homeownership as a far-off goal, until they learned of the Chalmers Home Buyer Assistance Program offered by the Chalmers Neighbourhood Renewal Corporation (CNRC).
As of September 1, the family is happily settling into their new home, which has already had such a positive impact on their lives.
It’s so much better living in our own house,” Abraham said. “We can play outside together as a family. There is a lot of space. We are very happy, very comfortable.”
Funding up to $14,000
Often one of the biggest obstacles to first time home buyers is saving up the down payment and closing costs involved in purchasing a house. The CNRC’s program provides funding to qualifying families of up to $14,000 to cover these costs.
After undergoing a rigorous selection process, qualifying participants must also attend Each One, Teach One Financial Literacy: Home Readiness Workshops facilitated by Assiniboine Credit Union.
We’re helping people get into their own homes more quickly. To be able to save $14,000 (for a down payment and closing costs) may take families three to five years. To move into a house where the kids can run around is amazing,” explained Mani Sheppard-Luangkhot, Manager, Financial Access Programs at ACU.
A house becomes a home
Seeing the first family actually move into their own home as part of the Chalmers program is an exciting step. “With Abraham and Tsehaynesh’s family moving into their home, it demonstrates the real-life impacts of the program,” Mani said.
With a hectic schedule, home ownership has become very important. Both parents are attending classes to improve their English-language skills and Abraham is working at Granny’s Poultry in the Steinbach area.
The spacious three-bedroom, two-storey home and a large fenced-in yard now provide space for their three kids to play, and room for the family to feel at home as they integrate further into the community. “The kids love to go up and down the stairs and run around all the space,” Abraham said.
It feels great,” Tsehaynesh explained about living their home, via the translation of their real estate agent Teddy Beyene. “Living in an apartment, there were a lot of disturbances for the kids. Having a house has been really good.”
Joining the neighbourhood
Being part of a welcoming community is important for any new family, and Abraham said his family was quickly welcomed and embraced by the neighbourhood. “We have three or four neighbours for friends now.”
As a real estate agent with Re/Max Professionals, Teddy had nothing but praise for the Chalmers program.
It’s a very helpful program, especially for newcomers,” he said. “It helps families get out of rental properties and less desirable areas. If this program didn’t exist, they wouldn’t have been able to buy a house for at least several years.”
Other families are currently involved with the Chalmers program and are working towards home ownership. Organizations in the city have also offered similar programs to facilitate home ownership, including SEED Winnipeg and Manitoba Tipi Mitawa.
Assiniboine Credit Union continues to work with the Chalmers Home Buyer Assistance Program, offering Home Readiness Workshops and helping prospective homeowners build their credit.
It involves sitting down with an account manager to review their finances,” Mani explained. “They look at ways to restructure existing debt to help free up some cash flow, so they’re able to save a little bit more for the closing costs or even for the moving expenses.”