Habitat For Humanity builds 'buyback' affordable housing in Coquitlam

Owning a home in Coquitlam may be more attainable in the next few years, as Habitat for Humanity is working with the city to build affordable housing with a buyback agreement.

Savings program aims to help families purchase homes in the future

Habitat for Humanity is partnering with the City of Coquitlam to build affordable housing and will begin construction by next year. (Habitat for Humanity)

Owning a home in Coquitlam may be more attainable in the next few years, as Habitat for Humanity is working with the city to build affordable housing with a buyback agreement.

When a family moves out of a home built by Habitat, the non-profit organization will purchase it from them. Dennis Coutts, the CEO of Habitat for Humanity in Greater Vancouver, said this helps families enter the housing market by giving them the cash needed for a dow npayment later down the line.  

"What we are doing is breaking the cycle of poverty because we are building equity with them," Coutts told CBC On The Coast guest host Gloria Macarenko.

Forty to 50 new housing units are planned for 1358 Coast Meridian Road, in keeping with Coquitlam's 2015 Housing Affordability Strategy.

"It is a game-changer," Coutts said. "Let's just assume that they are in the house for 10 years and they sell it back to Habitat. We would buy it back from them and they now have a down payment."

The families will be getting back part of the money they put into the house during the time they lived there, Coutts explained, and so their monthly mortgage payments act as a savings plan.

'Made-in-Vancouver solution'

The affordable housing program targets families in the low to moderate-level income bracket  — families making 50 to 80 per cent of Coquitlam's annual median income or 35,000-$55,000 a year for a family of four.

Coutts said the buyback agreement makes the difference between a family owning a house and renting indefinitely.

"In this market, it's conceivable that mortgages could be 130 years long," he said. "That doesn't work, so this is a made-in-Vancouver solution."

Jim McIntyre, general manager for planning and development for Coquitlam, said construction for the housing units will begin by 2018.

To hear the full interview with Dennis Coutts, click on the audio link below:

With files from On The Coast