BY KALISHA MENDONSA
The City of Lacombe is working hard to promote one of their affordable housing initiatives that comes in the form of the Down Payment Assistance Program, or DPAP.
The DPAP was born out of the housing needs assessment done in recent years as a way to help those who could own homes to do so. The City of Lacombe will, through this program, cover the cost of a down payment on certain homes affiliated through the initiative, which is usually around $11,000 – $13,000, according to a City official.
“If people meet the program requirements and can afford a home, but are stuck renting, we want to get them housed. That frees up rental space and gets them ownership. However, it’s not simply free money,” explained Guy Lapointe with the City of Lacombe.
“To that end, we have created the Down Payment Assistance Program (DPAP). That program assists people who are in the income bracket of $45,000-$90,000. That is for people who could probably own a home and who should be owners of a home, but who are struggling to save up for a down payment.”
Lapointe said there are many people who earn within the designated bracket and would be able to afford monthly mortgage payments, but struggle to save up for the down payment, especially in the current economic situation.
The program does have strict guidelines to help ensure its sustainability in terms of growth and continuation, and to create consequences for walking away from the home once purchased.
“It’s not free money. There is a caveat attached to the property that says if the owner decides to walk away from the property in the first five years, the City will receive back all of the down payment money,” Lapointe explained.
“It’s graduated over 20 years, and a portion of the money comes back to the City if the owner walks away from the home after five years and before 20.”
For the first five years of ownership, if the owner decides to move away from the home – including keeping it as a rental property, but not physically living there themselves – the City will then receive the total down payment back upon sale of the home or the date the home becomes a rental property.
After the first five years, 75 per cent of the down payment is owed to the City if the owner leaves before the 20th year.
“It’s really benefiting those who genuinely want to commit to a home and who need help with their down payment in order to do so,” Lapointe said.
He said the process to create this private/public partnership was lengthy. The program is operated through the City of Lacombe in partnership with Bethany Group and Browood Developments.
“We had a fairly lengthy process and originally hoped to have it rolled out in January 2016, but it took us until October of this year,” he said. “That is because we want to make sure the process is concrete. We want to make sure the home values match what they are priced at, and that the program meets a specific need. There has to be checks and balances in place to ensure that people don’t take advantage of the situation.”
Lapointe said he encourages those who meet the requirements to step up and apply. He said the program is a great initiative for the City because it helps to get those invested in Lacombe into homes and to help build up the community for the future.
More information is available at lacombe.ca/DPAP.