4 REASONS WHY MORTGAGE BROKERS ARE BETTER THAN BANKS

General 26 Nov

So Much Better

I am often asked if it’s hard to compete with the banks. While they may offer competitive rates at times, right now we have much better rates than the banks. However, we have certain advantages which allow us to blow them out of the water most of the time.

  1. More Choice

– banks are limited to around 5 products that they can offer you. They will try to fit you into one of their products even if the financial institution next door has a better one for you. Brokers have access to banks, credit unions, trust and mortgage companies as well as private lenders.

2. Better Representation –

Brokers are your champions bankers are employees. They put their employer first . They won’t offer you the best rates unless you are a good negotiator. Brokers are licenced by provincial organizations and have to follow a code of ethics which requires that we put the consumer first. We also negotiate the best rate, terms and conditions for you. If you need to break the mortgage before the end of the term, we can assist you with that and perhaps help you to avoid paying a penalty.

3. More Benefits –

If you are moving into a home that is more than one year old, you probably do not have a home warranty. Brokers have 3 lenders who offer home warranties, which can cover repairs to the plumbing, heating and electrical systems with a small deductible. Two of the lenders even offer this as a complimentary service for the first year while the third lender offers it for the length of the mortgage. As Dominion Lending Centre brokers, we also have discounted rates for moving services and boxes from a large national moving company .

4. Better Protection –

I saved the best for last. We offer portable mortgage life and disability insurance.

It may not sound like much but we have the same coverage as the banks offer with one important difference – portability. While we take care to place you with a good lender, circumstances change and lenders may not offer favourable terms on renewal. If you try to leave a bank after developing a condition like high blood pressure or having a heart attack, you will have to re-apply for insurance coverage and may be denied. There are hundreds if not thousands of unhappy bank clients who are stuck paying high interest rates because they are forced to stay with a lender. Broker insurance gives you the independence to move from lender to lender depending on who is willing to offer you the best rates and terms. This may not sound like much to you now but it’s a real game changer for anyone who knows someone who have had this happen to them.

Is it difficult to compete with the banks? No – we have them beat hands down.

David Cooke

DAVID COOKE

Dominion Lending Centres – Accredited Mortgage Professional
David is part of DLC Clarity Mortgages in Calgary, AB.

TOYS AND BUYING A HOME

General 19 Nov

This article borrowed from DAVID COOKE of Dominion Lending Centers

 

In 2005, I was asked to do a pre-approval by a couple hoping to buy a home. I went through the application with them and pre-approved them for $320,000. They were astounded. They told me that their bank told them that they were qualified to a maximum of $260,000. They wanted to know how I could get them more money. I looked at their credit reports and quickly found the answer.

I pointed out to them that they both had $10,000 unsecured lines of credit. They said that the bank had offered this to them several years ago but they had not used them. The zero balances confirmed their story. What they didn’t know was according to the bank’s rules, they had to consider these lines of credit as being fully utilized. The bank considered them as each carrying $300 in monthly payments that did not exist. My lenders took a zero balance as being a zero balance and I was able to get them more money and more house.

Last year I had a young man who wanted to buy a new home. He was very surprised when I told him he couldn’t afford it according to the new stress test rules. The reason being, he had a $950 a month truck payment. The only solutions available were to sell the truck, or negotiate a new payment plan by stretching out the payments for another year.

The moral of the story is that it’s important to let clients know that other debts outside of their mortgage can affect how much house they can qualify for, and that buying a vehicle or new toys like a trailer or boat before going to see their local mortgage broker, can be a costly mistake. Your Dominion Lending Centres mortgage broker can help you through the whole home buying process but you need to have them involved early in the process. Our job is to make people’s dreams come true and we do it a lot better than the banks.

David Cooke

The Downside to Downsizing

General 12 Nov

On the surface, downsizing can seem like a logical financial move.

However, when we asked Canadian homeowners aged 55 and older what their thoughts on downsizing are, we learned that while many are faced with the downsizing dilemma they are considering other options.

Below we outline some of our key findings from the survey we commissioned from Ipsos.

In short, downsizing does not guarantee financial freedom.

Largely why this dilemma exists is because Canadians aged 55 and older are not aware of all of the financial products available to them – most notably, the CHIP Reverse Mortgage.

Best Regards,
Andrea Twizell
National Partnership Director, Mortgage Brokers

If you would like to learn more about how a reverse mortgage can be an alternative to downsizing, please contact us at HT Mortgage Group here in Grande Prairie, and ask to speak to one of our mortgage brokers at 780-513-6611 or 1-800-513-6611

 

GROWING MARIJUANA AND SELLING YOUR HOME

General 3 Nov

Growing Marijuana, will it affect the sale of your home?

There is quite a bit of information being passed around about growing marijuana in your home that could or will  prevent the sale of your property down the road.

CMHC is Canada’s federally owned mortgage insurer. As of October 25, 2018, their stance on homes that were former grow operations has not changed and reads as follows:

“At this time, CMHC is not making any changes to its mortgage loan insurance policies in relation to the impending  legalization of cannabis. CMHC will continue to insure mortgage loans for homeowner residential properties (1-4 units) and multi-unit residential properties (5+ units) where cannabis was previously grown and/or will be legally grown.
We will also monitor the impacts of the Cannabis Act on our mortgage loan insurance activities over the long term. We will also be reminding Approved Lenders that, in cases where property damage has occurred, they are required to disclose this information to CMHC in making the request for mortgage loan insurance and confirm that remedial action has been taken to address any related property damage/alterations,” Courtesy Beverly LePage, Client Relations – CMHC.

HOWEVER, in my opinion as a mortgage broker, it is the damage to the home from a “typical illegal” grow op that is most important here. When one hears “grow op”, you picture rooms full of plants with lights and irrigation lines with no care taken to prevent irreparable damage to the home.

Please consider the following scenarios.

Tomato enthusiast #1

Tomato enthusiast #1 absolutely loves tomatoes. He/she finds them relaxing and even fun to share with friends. Tomato  enthusiast #1 places dozens of tomato plants in every room of their home with full irrigation and grow lighting. Without proper ventilation, this caused a drastic increase in humidity in the home. If that were to continue,  a dangerous mold condition may develop, making the home uninhabitable. In this case the damage that
Tomato enthusiast #1 caused may prevent a mortgage from being placed on the property by the lender and/or insurer.

Tomato Enthusiast #2

Tomato enthusiast #2 also loves his tomatoes but not quite as much as #1. He/she enjoys having a few slices on toast on a Friday evening as a weekly treat. Tomato enthusiast #2 places 4 tomato plants in front of the living room window and daily watered and talked to them pleasantly. Having 4 tomatoes plants in the home was not illegal before October 17th and probably never will be. With proper care the 4 tomato plants thrived and never caused any damage to the home. A few weeks down the road Tomato enthusiast #2 decided to sell the property.  When their trusted realtor arrived to list the home there was no apparent damage caused by any plant or animal
that resided there and it was immaculate. It is highly unlikely that the presence of 4 tomato plants would prevent approval by a mortgage lender or insurer.

If you have any questions, contact a Dominion Lending Centres Mortgage Professional near you.

Kevin Carlson

KEVIN CARLSON

Dominion Lending Centres – Accredited Mortgage Professional
Kevin is part of DLC The Mortgage Firm based in Regina, SK.

A BRIDE AND A MORTGAGE BROKER – OUR HOUSE MAGAZINE

General 29 Oct

A BRIDE AND A MORTGAGE BROKER – OUR HOUSE MAGAZINE

Dominion Lending Centres’ leading lady in the new national commercial campaign has a few questions of her own. As a young Canadian looking to get into the housing market, Laura Steponchev has a candid Q&A with one of our pro’s.

You could say Laura Steponchev is a pretty typical Canadian millennial. The aspiring actress moved to Toronto from Regina five years ago to pursue her career. And over the years, she’s moved around quite a bit. Steponchev lived on her own for a while, and loved it, but paying the bills was tough and she needed to be more reasonable. She got a roommate, but he moved in with his fiancé, and she moved out of that condo and into an old house in Greektown with four other roommates. She eventually met her boyfriend, and they soon moved in together. The couple decided they wanted a place of their own, so they moved into his parents’ house in the ‘burbs.
“Living with your partner comes with its own troubles, but living together with your inlaws – that’s a whole new ballgame,” she said.
Steponchev wants to get into the market, but she’s got a lot of questions.

Our House Magazine teamed up with Dominion Lending Centres mortgage broker to answer some of those questions and help Steponchev on the path to homeownership.

Q. I understand that first-time homebuyers are granted a five-per-cent down payment – I am not a first-time buyer any more. What am I looking to save for a down payment now?

A. First-time homebuyers are not the only ones who can purchase a home with as little as five per cent down. As long as the home you are purchasing will be your residence, you can still put only five percent down. But all lenders and mortgage insurers (CMHC, Genworth and Canada Guaranty) will want you to have an additional 1.5 per cent of the purchase price to ensure you can cover closing costs such as legal fees, Property Transfer Tax, Land Title registration etc.

Q. What’s the minimum down payment you would recommend to have before looking?

A. As long as you have the minimum five per cent down and 1.5 per cent of the purchase price for closing costs, that’s all a lender and mortgage insurer will want you to have. However, I recommend having a bit more as a buffer against unexpected costs. Remember, with a move there are utility hook-up costs, moving costs, home inspection and so on. Having an additional $5,000 above your down payment and lender-required 1.5 per cent will help make it a smoother move.

Q. What kinds of interest rates are we looking at?

A. Rates will vary day-to-day, but we are still at almost historical lows right now, and they are on the rise. Rates are offered and guaranteed for a period of time called a term. Terms can vary from one to 10 years with some lenders and are priced according to each individual lender’s pricing structure.
The most popular are five-year fixed and five-year variable. Where right now we see five-year fixed rates as low as 3.04 per cent and five-year variable rates as low as 2.36 per cent for qualified applicants, be aware that it is not all about rate. Some of the more appealing lower rate offerings come with additional terms that may not work for you, such as higher penalty structures or bona fide sale clauses that could have you stuck if you want or need to pay out your mortgage mid term.
As always, it is advisable to speak with an experienced mortgage broker to find out more about the terms of any rate offering to make sure you know all the implications that could apply to your situation.

Q. Realistically, what should our budget be?

A. Conservatively, the government has said that 35 per cent of your combined annual gross income should be enough to cover property expenses (mortgage payment, property taxes, condo fees, heating costs), and 42 per cent of your gross annual income needs to be enough to cover the property expenses plus any other credit payments (loans, credit cards, lines of credit).
In reality, every person’s situation is different, so, before you decide to take the leap into home ownership, it is a good exercise to detail your current budget to get a starting point for what supports a comfortable lifestyle. Be sure to include a savings plan into that monthly budget, not only for retirement but you will likely have maintenance costs with your new home or you may want to do some updating.
Now replace your rent payment with property costs (detailed above) and see how your monthly cash flow will be. Is it comfortable, or would you be pinched? Ultimately, it is no fun to be house rich and cash poor, so, if you would feel pinched, it might be an idea to downsize your purchase price to a more realistic level.

 

Q. In this economy and as a millennial, we’re told that owning a home is a very distant reality (especially due to that darned avocado toast).
Are our dreams of owning our own place just that – dreams?

A. Not at all! In my experience, millennial’s are very determined when they set their sights on a goal and really just need enough information to formulate a realistic plan. If a home purchase is in your future, my recommendation is to get in touch with a mortgage broker and start building that plan – sooner rather than later.
You may already be qualified and just don’t know it, or there may be tips and tricks you are unaware of that could bring that dream closer sooner. Or it may be that it could take you a year or two to get into a really strong position to enter the market. You just won’t know until you try.
I can tell you personally, it is a very satisfying professional experience when I work with clients from dream to reality, not matter how long it takes. It’s an exciting experience every time!

Jeremy Deutsch

JEREMY DEUTSCH

Communications Advisor

 

CMHC CHANGES TO ASSIST SELF-EMPLOYED BORROWERS

General 22 Oct

CMHC CHANGES TO ASSIST SELF-EMPLOYED BORROWERS

As a self-employed person myself, I was happy to hear that CMHC is willing to make some changes that will make it easier for us to qualify for a mortgage.
In an announcement on July 19, 2018, the CMHC has said “Self-employed Canadians represent a significant part of the Canadian workforce. These policy changes respond to that reality by making it easier for self-employed borrowers to obtain CMHC mortgage loan insurance and benefit from competitive interest rates.” — Romy Bowers, Chief Commercial Officer, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation. These policy changes are to take effect Oct. 1, 2018.

Traditionally self-employed borrowers will write as many expenses as they can to minimize the income tax they pay each year. While this is a good tax-saving technique it means that often a realistic annual income can not be established high enough to meet mortgage qualification guidelines.
Plain speak, we don’t look good on paper.

Normally CMHC wants to see two years established business history to be able to determine an average income. But the agency said it will now make allowances for people who acquire existing businesses, can demonstrate sufficient cash reserves, who will be expecting predictable earnings and have previous training and education.
Take for example a borrower that has been an interior designer with a firm for the past eight years and in the same industry for the past 30 years, but just struck out on his own last year. His main work contract is with the firm he used to work for, but now he has the ability to pick up additional contracts from the industry in which he has vast connections.
Where previously he would have had to entertain a mortgage with an interest rate at least 1% higher than the best on the market and have to pay a fee, now he would be able to meet insurance requirements and get preferred rates.

The other change that CMHC has made is to allow for more flexible documentation of income and the ability to look at Statements of Business Professional Activity from a sole-proprietor’s income tax submission to support Add Backs of certain write-offs to support a grossing-up of income. Basically, recognizing that many write-offs are simply for tax-saving purposes and are not a reduction of actual income. This could mean a significant increase in income and buying power.

It is refreshing after years of government claw-backs and conservative policy changes to finally see the swing back in the other direction. Self-employed Canadians have taken on the burden of an often fluctuating income and responsible income tax management all for the ability to work for themselves. These measures will help them with the reward of being able to own their own home as well.

Kristin Woolard

KRISTIN WOOLARD

Dominion Lending Centres – Accredited Mortgage Professional
Kristin is part of DLC National based in Port Coquitlam, BC.

Mortgage Moment: When Life Gives you Lemons…

General 17 Aug

MORTGAGE MOMENT: WHEN LIFE GIVES YOU LEMONS…

We all do it. Even I fall guilty to it at times. It’s really a part of Human Nature…and really what fun is life without it?

What exactly are we talking about? Dreaming. We make grand plans and lay them out with the utmost care. We write them out, daydream about them, and (hopefully) we make them come true! There is nothing wrong with doing this…not a single thing! However, as many of you know, rarely do the dreams and plans we lay out stay on course as we would like them to.

This holds true many times for mortgage clients. We find that many times, what they initially come to us with when they are being pre-approved, rarely is the same less than 3 years later (There’s a reason 6 out of 10 Canadians break their 5-year term mortgage early).

Recently, we had just this happen with one of our clients. A young, working professional couple, found themselves in a difficult situation when one of them was injured and went on long-term disability leave.

Their income took a significant drop due to this and their cash flow was of course, negatively impacted. They relied (as many people do) on credit cards and at one point also took out a line of credit. They were able to make minimum payments each month on their loans and debts, but the problem sat with the interest rates. They kept getting higher and the debt they carried wasn’t being reduced.

Basically, life had handed them some lemons.

At this point, they felt they were left with one option: seek private funding. The problem with this was fear of losing their home if they approached their lender. The interest rate quoted by the private lender was less than that on their credit cards, but still higher than what was reasonable. The couple felt that seeking to obtain a second mortgage would be the best-case scenario. However, with a rate of 10% plus a lender fee of up to 6% of the loan amount and a 1 year term with renewal fee of 1% for total amount borrowed, this was not at all ideal!

This is where we stepped in and decided to make some lemonade! Here is how the story played out once they came to see us:

  1. We were able to use the income received from disability and refinanced their existing mortgage
  2. We consolidated the credit card and line of credit debt at a rate of 2.35% in doing so we reduced their current monthly payments by $1500 with an annual savings of $18,000! Or $90,000 over five years!

Here is a brief number summary to give you the full recap:

Value of the Home: $525,000

Requested Mortgage Amount: $420,000

Loan to Value: 80%

Income Documentation:

  1. Letter of employment and pay stub
  2. Letter from insurance company detailing disability payments and confirmation of deposit into current bank account.

Credit Score: 746 & 676

Total Debt Service Ratios: 41%

Mortgage Solution: All debts were paid with proceeds from their 5-year variable-rate mortgage with a 30-year amortization. The annual savings was MORE THAN $18,000!

 We helped this couple get back on track and allowed them to keep on dreaming! We understand that life rarely will stay on course and go just as you picture it, but there is often a creative solution that can help you get back on track. If life has handed you a few lemons and you aren’t sure where to start, visit a Dominion Lending Centres Mortgage Broker—they can make some of the best lemonade!

Geoff Lee

GEOFF LEE

Dominion Lending Centres – Accredited Mortgage Professional
Geoff is part of DLC GLM Mortgage Group based in Vancouver, BC.

A TAILOR-MADE SOLUTION FOR SOME BORROWERS

General 10 Aug

A TAILOR-MADE SOLUTION FOR SOME BORROWERS

Recently, two of my lenders came out with new products – Interest only mortgages. We have had these available from private lenders for many years but at much higher interest rates. They are useful for real estate investors and people who have consolidated debts and need six months to a year to get back on their feet. These new mortgages are not meant to be short term solutions but they are meant to be used for a minimum of two years and preferably for five years.
So who in their right mind would want a mortgage for five years where the principal doesn’t go down?

1- real estate investors- some investors are looking for cash flow; this is a perfect product for them. They want to keep monthly payments to a minimum so that they ca use the extra cash to buy other properties, or for income to live on. They will eventually sell the properties for a lot more cash when they are ready to retire.

2- Seasonal workers- Lobster fisherman, lumberjacks , oil patch workers and workers in the trades who have to go back to school every year for three years are the people who this product works for. During spring break-up when the oil patch closes for several weeks , the bills don’t stop coming. Working with your Dominion Lending Centres mortgage broker you can design a mortgage to help you through the periods when there’s no income coming in. The best strategy for you may be to step up the mortgage as interest only and then have the broker calculate what a normal amortizing mortgage payment for you would be. During your period of no income, you pay the minimum payments and then when you get back to work, you bump your payment up to normal or even slightly higher to make up for the shortfall.

These interest only mortgages are available with a variable rate, a fixed rate , a variable interest only plus a fixed amortized rate or a combination of any of the above rates. This allows you and your broker to customize mortgage payments to make the best mortgage for your particular situation. It’s like a tailor-made suit. It’s exactly what you need. Contact your local DLC mortgage broker for more information .

David Cooke

DAVID COOKE

Dominion Lending Centres – Accredited Mortgage Professional
David is part of DLC Clarity Mortgages in Calgary, AB.

Grande Prairie tax rates vs Canada’s hottest Metro Centres

General 3 Aug

Property Taxes in Canada’s hottest markets vs Grande Prairie

I’m sure you’ve all heard the rumours… Grande Prairie’s property tax rate is one of the highest in Alberta. Recently a very interesting article by Ephraim Vecina has been going around “Property taxes in Canada’s hottest metropolitan markets”. So I thought I would add some local flavour to this article.

When qualifying for a mortgage, the cost of carrying the property is included. This means local rates for electricity, heat, condo fee’s and property taxes all affect how much house you qualify for.

A smaller property tax is less money you pay each month, and also potentially an extra 10,000 or 20,000 on the amount of mortgage you can buy.

 

Here’s a quick summary of our local tax rates:

Property tax on a 1,000,000 home in Grande Prairie: 1.2864% ($12,864.50) at 1.2% our property taxes are definitely higher than in a lot of large centres. There is hope though. If you choose to live in the County of Grande Prairie: 0.4043% ($4043.6) your tax rates are a 1/3 of what you pay in the city.

                                     Town of Sexsmith: 0.7465% ($7,465.70)

                                     Clairmont : County tax rates 0.404% ($4,043.6)

                                      Peace River 1.2004%($12,049.3)

                                     Calgary: 0.65% ($6,500)

Edmonton: 0.8686% ($8,686.90)

You can find out the tax mill rate of any municipalty your intertested in living in by calling your local town council, and asking.

                                     Local tax Comparision by Jillian Napen 03 Aug 2018

Property taxes in Canada’s hottest metropolitan markets

Property taxes in CanadaIn a new report, real estate information portal Zoocasa compared the property tax rates of the nation’s hottest metropolitan housing markets, along with the widely varying economic fundamentals that underline these figures.

“Home buyers often focus on the home price when considering affordability, but often overlook the carrying costs such as property taxes, which can be a significant on-going expense,” Zoocasa noted as the motivation for the study.

Amid widespread concerns about housing costs and interest rates, Canadian home buyers have access to multiple locales of relative affordability – but these places are not necessarily those where property taxes are the lowest, Zoocasa stated.

Read more: Sudden price decline comes with great danger – MPC

Comparing the rates for each market as of July 2018, the cities with the lowest property taxes on a home assessed at $1 million are as follows:

  • Vancouver, British Columbia – 0.24683% ($2,468 in tax vs. a $1M home)
  • Abbotsford, British Columbia – 0.51300% ($5,130 in tax vs. a $1M home)
  • Victoria, British Columbia – 0.52035% ($5,204 in tax vs. a $1M home)
  • Kelowna, British Columbia – 0.52605% ($5,260 in tax vs. a $1M home)
  • Toronto, Ontario – 0.63551% ($6,355 in tax vs. a $1M home)

Meanwhile, the markets with the highest property tax rates were:

  • Saint John, New Brunswick – 1.78500% ($17,850 in tax vs. a $1M home)
  • Fredericton, New Brunswick – 1.42110% ($14,211 in tax vs. a $1M home)
  • London, Ontario – 1.35082% ($13,508 in tax vs. a $1M home)
  • Hamilton, Ontario – 1.26196% ($12,620 in tax vs. a $1M home)
  • Winnipeg, Manitoba – 1.24871% ($12,487 in tax vs. a $1M home)

Homes For Heroes

General 25 Jul

HOMES FOR HEROES – OUR HOUSE MAGAZINE

A Calgary-based charitable foundation is set to break ground on a first-of-its-kind development aimed to help Canadian veterans, one tiny home at a time.

If Dave Howard had his way, the tiny home community project he has planned to help house homeless military veterans in Calgary would be in every major city across Canada.
As the president and co-founder of Homes for Heroes Foundation, a non-profit society, his idea is actually a pretty simple one. Take roughly 20 or 30 tiny homes, about 300 square feet in size, put them together on a small piece of land in the city and offer services like counselling and resources to help these war heroes get back on their feet.

Howard’s vision took a big step forward this spring when Homes for Heroes Foundation announced the first-of-its-kind community would soon break ground in Calgary’s Bridgeland community, on sub-leased land from the Canadian Institute for the Blind.

The first village will feature 20 tiny homes, a resource centre, and community gardens. Each tiny home will also include a memorial plaque in honour of a Canadian soldier who lost their life serving in Afghanistan.
The project for Howard is the culmination of a dozen years of charitable involvement in helping veterans in his community. And it’s definitely personal.

He became dedicated to the plight of veterans after an overnight stay with his estranged grandfather, a former Navy member. At the time, his grandfather was sleeping on a coach in a 200 square-foot room, having battled alcoholism once he returned to civilian life. While Howard explained his grandfather worked his way up to be president of a major company, he came back from service suffering from shell shock and fell all the way to the bottom because of alcohol.

Howard discovered his grandfather, who by this time was a security guard for the building of the company he was formerly president, had resorted to eating dog food out of can, and it shook him to the core.
“I realized there needed to be something done differently for veterans that are living in poverty and to help them get out of that.”
So 12 years ago, Howard started the Canadian Legacy Project which was tasked with advocating for Canadian veterans and creating programs to improve their lives.
The organization then partnered with Murray McCann and McCann family Foundation, a charity that funds a number of initiatives including the Field of Crosses Memorial Project and the placement of 500 crosses in a park on Memorial Drive, near downtown Calgary. Out of that partnership came Homes for Heroes.

Howard said they started looking at was being done for the veterans struggling to return to civilian life, and there wasn’t much. There were scattered facilities, but he found none that were offering full support services.
That’s when the two organizations came up with the idea of a community of tiny homes. As Howard explained, when veterans get accepted into the community, they’ll go through a detailed needs analysis and be provided counselling to help them get back to civilian life. The eventual goal is to have them get back to work and into a more permanent housing solution. Calgary-based The Mustard Seed will manage the social services, while residents will pay about $500 a month rent to live in each unit. Howard noted the rent will help cover the cost to maintain the community.

He said these 300 square foot units will have all the amenities of a larger home, but are also the perfect size for someone coming off the streets.
“The idea is for them to have their own space that is significant enough to have guests over but it’s also part of a community,” Howard said, adding he believes the problem of homeless veterans could be solved within six years with this type of community.

There are an estimated 2,500 homeless veterans in Canada, and another 160 in Calgary. However, Howard believes the number is much higher suggesting most veterans don’t like to self-identify out of pride and fear of losing what benefits they might have.
There are plans for a second community in Calgary and also one in Edmonton. The first project is expected to cost about $2 million to build and another $500,000 in a trust to keep the community operating in the future. Much of the funding comes from private companies including a $1.5 million donation from ATCO, an Alberta-based energy and logistics company.

Howard is confident the model could work across the country and he’s hoping to eventually see two tiny communities helping veterans in each major city across Canada. And he’s urging municipalities across the country to take note of the model, noting cities would only need to lend a portion of unused land for a few years. The communities can be erected and then dismantled in only a few short months.
“It is an answer to a lot of other issues,” he said. “This can fit a lot of demographics and I think municipalities would be wise to look at it and say ‘we should be doing this.’”

The project is drawing praise from local organizations that work with veterans, including Calgary’s Royal Canadian Legion Poppy Fund.
John Rathwell, the general manager of the poppy fund and veteran’s food bank, believes the model will be successful in helping veterans get back on their feet.
“Veterans are a proud sort, no veteran I know likes to ask for help,” he said. “This assistance, giving them a place of purpose and even training and support within their own peer groups… can help them move on whether it be through job counselling, mental and physical issues, and just giving them a sense of belonging.”
“This place will be important because it will now be a place they can call their home,” Rathwell said. “They were living on the streets where nobody knew or cared who they were and they’ll be able to take pride and help regain their self-esteem and be able to successfully transition back into civilian life.”

Jeremy Deutsch

JEREMY DEUTSCH

Communications Advisor

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