The Chalmers Neighbourhood Renewal Corporation: Building a stronger community

Part 1: This local group is strengthening their neighbourhood by offering homeownership assistance.

A Winnipeg neighbourhood organization is helping families overcome financial obstacles to homeownership, all while adding value to their community.

The Chalmers Home Buyer Assistance Program, offered by the Chalmers Neighbourhood Renewal Corporation (CNRC), assists families with the initial purchasing costs of homes in the Chalmers neighbourhood of Winnipeg.

With support from Manitoba Housing and the federal government, the program is changing the lives of participants and is helping make the neighbourhood a better place.

Helping dreams come true

Tsehaynesh Gulwet and Abraham Mengesteab are ecstatic to be the first successful participants in this program. Along with their three children, they’ve recently moved into their first house since immigrating to Canada from Eritrea.

Under the program, qualifying participants can have up to $14,000 in down payment and closing costs covered for a home sold for up to $250,000. Applicants must have at least one dependent and income below a certain threshold.

Chalmers Neighbourhood Renewal Corporate
Tsehaynesh Gulwet and Abraham Mengesteab are ecstatic to be the first successful participants in this program.

Selected participants are required to attend Each One, Teach One Financial Literacy: Home Readiness Workshops facilitated by Assiniboine Credit Union (currently running Wednesday evenings until November 21 at 180 Poplar Avenue), and must qualify for a pre-approval on a mortgage from a bank or credit union. They are required to stay in the home for at least 10 years, or they must pay back the funding at a prorated level.

Stability in the neighbourhood

The CNRC sees this program as an opportunity to strengthen the community.

We like to promote home ownership because we’re looking for stability in the neighbourhood. We’d like people to come, stay and be part of the community,” said CNRC Housing Support Co-ordinator Liz Plett.

The organization works with current and former residents, businesses, service providers and supporters to develop initiatives that benefit the Chalmers Neighbourhood and the broader community of Elmwood.

Chalmers neighbourhood

Making smart home buyers

Assiniboine Credit Union runs the workshops and also handles mortgages for the program. The Home Readiness Workshops educate potential homebuyers on topics including renting versus owning, the costs of home ownership and how to find the right home.

They also cover other practical matters related to the home buying process, such as how to enlist the services of lawyers, insurance providers, home inspectors and other related professionals.

They’re all open to the general public,” Liz said of the workshops, “so people know what they’re getting into as first-time homebuyers.”

A community of support

ACU also works with program applicants to help them boost their financial literacy and their credit.

“ACU helped us with the program proposal and with the workshops. They also set up the mortgages and help people build credit,” Liz explained. “At every step of the way, they’ve been involved.”

Manichan Luangkhot

Mani Sheppard-Luangkhot, Manager, Financial Access Programs at ACU, has been the credit union’s liaison with the CNRC. ACU has made access to affordable housing a key focus over the past few years.

It a fantastic opportunity,” Mani said of the Chalmers Home Buyer Assistance Program. “If we can team up with community partners to bring families into safe and affordable housing, it makes sense and it’s part of our values.”

“It creates stability for the family and in the community. Homeownership brings a lot of pride, not only for newcomers but members of the existing community as well.”

In part two of the story, get to know more about new homeowners, Abraham and Tsehaynesh, and learn about the positive outcome of their experience with the Chalmers Home Buyer Assistance Program, including how they’re settling into their new community.

About Jason Halstead

Jason is a Winnipeg-based journalist and photographer who has been published across Canadian media.

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