In an effort to increase the amount of Calgarians stepping into the role of homeowner, Attainable Homes Calgary Corporation (AHCC) has announced new income criteria.

AHCC President and CEO David Watson explained the median income of Calgarians was based on data from 2006. When updated to Statistic Canada’s numbers for 2011, AHCC decided it was time to take another look at its income criteria.

AHCC noticed there were some people just above its cap of $80,000 and taking into account families or single parents responsible for the cost of childcare that, “we thought we should give them a bit of a break in the criteria category,” he said.

Attainable Homes helps Calgarians become homeowners if they meet the income criteria, can qualify for a mortgage and can come up with a down payment of $2,000. The corporation’s website, includes three steps in the path to homeownership: getting in touch, getting educated and getting a mortgage.

“I’m so thankful,” said Megan, an Attainable Homes recipient, on the corporation’s website. “It would have been years before I could even think of buying a home of my own. If it wasn’t for Attainable Homes, I’d still be living in a basement suite paying somebody else’s mortgage.”

As of June 1, the new Attainable Home Ownership Program criteria is a maximum household income of $90,000 per year for single and dual parent families with dependent children living in the home or a maximum household income of $80,000 per year for single and couples without children. Previously, the criteria as an annual income of $80,300 or less regardless of families’ circumstances.

“We started talking about (changing the criteria) late last year but we actually started working on it more aggressively in the first quarter of this year,” said Watson.

Once the criteria change was announced, Watson said it was “almost within hours” that a couple with a baby came to the Attainable Homes offices who had been looking into Attainable Homes but were just above the $80,000 mark — and now were able to apply for a home of their own.

“I was just reading in the paper … that house prices in Calgary are rising faster than anywhere else in Canada right now and that more and more people that have moderate incomes in Calgary are unable to get to a point where they can actually save a down payment,” Watson said.“So … they get to save for 20 years or something, that doesn’t seem to be right if they have a real desire to own.

“This (new criteria) allows them to get into the property or on the property ladder quicker than otherwise and that builds stronger community in my view.”

As far as availability of Attainable Homes products right now, Watson said there are “one or two” units left in Cranston but their major source of units right now is in Sky View Ranch, a partnership with Truman Homes. He added the corporation is also in negotiations with three or four builders for products in the northwest, northeast and southeast as well as being in the midst of getting approvals on two properties in northwest central Calgary and West Springs.