British Columbia

Attainable Homes: Calgary's creative affordable housing idea

Thanks to a non-profit owned by the City of Calgary, those making under $90,000 can buy a condo or townhouse for a $2,000 down payment. Could it work in Vancouver?

City-run non-profit helps those making under $90k buy first home with $2k down payment

This townhouse development is one of several options from Attainable Homes Calgary. (

As prices for homes spiral out of control in Vancouver, an organization in Calgary claims its affordable housing model could work in the Lower Mainland's overheated market.

Attainable Homes is a City of Calgary-owned non-profit that allows certain families to buy a house for a down payment of only $2,000.

CEO John Harrop says the program has been a great success because it helps get people into the market, and it earns the city money that it can then put back into housing.

"The purchaser pays $2,000 of down payment, the banks provide a 95 per cent mortgage, and we provide the difference, which is about four to five per cent," he told On The Coast guest host Gloria Macarenko.

Attainable Homes caters to families who are buying their first home and earn less than $90,000 each year.

The family buying the home has to agree to make their Attainable  Homes property their "permanent sole residence" and when they sell the home, a share of the appreciation accrued is given back to the program to finance more families getting into homes.

"We do bulk-buy units or we develop them ourselves, so the actual cost of the unit is slightly cheaper than it would be in the market," Harrop said.

"They tend to be more modest, so typically we would have laminate countertops, instead of marble or granite — carpet instead of hardwood."

Could it work in Vancouver?

The properties available through Attainable Homes are condos and townhomes ranging from one to three bedrooms.

While the average condo or townhome costs about $240,000, the average Attainable Homes property costs about $220,000.

So is this something that could work in Vancouver?

Harrop says it could be "one piece in the whole housing problem."

"That's everything from fully supported social housing to below-market housing to market rental to affordable housing," he said. "It is a model that should, in theory, work in Vancouver."


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