CREB® Now took the time to chat with Lisa Clement, family services manager for Habitat for Humanity Southern Alberta about the PEAK Home Ownership Program administered by Habitat. PEAK is aimed at helping hard-working, middle-income Calgarians who need a hand qualifying for a mortgage. As well as sharing some insights on Calgary’s housing scene, Clement — who moved to Calgary 10 years ago from Ottawa — also shared her thoughts on Calgary’s strengths and why the kitchen is her favourite room in the house.
CREB®>> What is PEAK and what do you do?
Clement>> PEAK Home Ownership is an attainable housing program, which Habitat for Humanity Southern Alberta is in partnership with Trico Homes. So what PEAK does is offer homes with recent developments; it puts middle income Calgarians into home ownership, typically people that can’t save up a down payment because they’re paying 30-40 per of their income on rent.
CREB®>> Why is a program initiative like PEAK so important in Calgary?
Clement>> PEAK is important because as we know, there’s probably about 70,000 people in Calgary who need some form of affordable housing and with the increase in migration of people in Alberta housing is becoming really difficult to come by. Conversely rental prices are going up again. So people move here for jobs which is great, but then they can’t afford the rent and they can’t find a place to live so it’s helping people out that way and its also putting people into home ownership and giving them stability and security.
CREB®>> Is there — thinking of people who come into the program — a common situation?
Clement>> Most of our clients are couples — young couples just starting out, young families, quite a few single parents come into the program. Lots of people just can’t save up that down payment, it’s really hard to do so with PEAK we’re able to help them out with that.
CREB®>> What can you tell me about the latest PEAK development?
Clement>> Right now we are just finishing up a project, York 29, which is New Brighton, those are townhome condominiums (and) we have a few of those units left. This year we’ll be starting a new project with Trico Homes in Sage Hill and we expect over two years to have 100 homes available and that would be a combination of townhomes and apartment style condominiums. We expect to start presales in March of this year.
CREB®>> What’s the PEAK application process?
Clement>> It’s exactly like applying for a mortgage. We do have an income range that we look for because it is an attainable housing program so applicants have to sit within a certain income range its up to about $65,000 per year gross annual combined. All the qualifying criteria is on the website, PEAKCalgary.ca, so it’s really just able to qualify to carry a mortgage and falling within that income range, that’s what we’re looking for.
CREB®>> If you could change anything about Calgary what would it be?
Clement>> The infrastructure. Personally for me we’re growing so fast and we’re not able to support all the people that are moving to the city, so some work around that. Also more housing options because I work in affordable housing, I’m inundated with thousands and thousands of people who contact me every year for housing and I’m able to help them either through Habitat or PEAK and you just don’t have enough housing options for people so more affordable and attainable housing would be great in Calgary.
CREB®>> What’s something that makes a good community?
Clement>> A diverse community; communities that have a really great mix of families, singles, couples (and) seniors. Communities that are built around green space, lots of walking, you’re able to walk, get to your amenities. We’re not building way out in the suburbs where everyone has to drive so we’re easing the stress on the roads in terms of transportation, just really accessible communities. People can walk around and meet each other and interact with each other.
CREB®>> What do you think Calgary’s strengths are as a city?
Clement>> The fact that we are a really diverse city. Culturally, we’re leaps and bounds ahead — I’ve been in Calgary 10 years and I’ve just seen it grow that way. We’ve got lots of great things to do — theatre, arts and we’ve got wonderful outdoor recreation opportunities. We’re really close to the mountains, so just lots of things to do for active people, families and individuals. I think its a really great kind of urban city that’s growing.
CREB®>> What is your favourite way to spend a day off in the City?
Clement>> I like to get outside so I’m always either hiking, skiing in the winter, snowshoeing up in the mountains. We’re so close to the mountains, I try to take advantage of that as much as I can.
CREB>>® What’s your favourite room in the house?
Clement>> It tends to be the kitchen because that’s where you can gather with friends and family. You’re cooking and you’re chatting and my dog’s there and she gets to participate, so just kind of the central place where everyone gathers and I really enjoy cooking so its great.