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hop - An Initiative Whose Time has Come

The Housing Opportunity Partnership (HOP) is a not-for-profit inner city housing revitalization initiative dedicated to reclaiming houses, streets and neighbourhoods by acquiring homes in need of repair; completely upgrading them, and then selling them to new homeowners.

View a map of hop homes SOLD.

HOP's groundbreaking work started in 1995 when as a result of learning about the success of the Columbus Housing Partnership in the United States; Cliff Palmer, the 1995 Winnipeg Real Estate Board President, felt Winnipeg could do something similar given the need for neighbourhood revitalization. This led to the Board forming a broad housing stakeholder task force to plant the seeds for a housing partnership in Winnipeg. From there, it took a number of draft proposals to government and legislative changes but perseverance prevailed and HOP received its first funding of $129,900 in September 1997 from the Manitoba Securities Commission (MSC). It came from the interest earned from money deposited in real estate broker trust accounts that the MSC collects.

Since HOP began in earnest in 1998, it has invested over $4 million in the West End of Winnipeg. 86 homes have been acquired and all have been sold (as of August 2012). The proceeds from the sale of HOP homes are put back into acquiring and reclaiming more homes and supporting the administration of the program. HOP's goal is to keep administrative overhead to a minimum so the majority of dollars expended go into acquiring and refurbishing homes.

HOP's targeted area is on the western edge of the Spence neighbourhood. It includes the neighbourhoods of St. Matthew and Daniel McIntyre with focus on all streets between Arlington and Balmoral, bordered to the north by Notre Dame and to the south by Portage Avenue. Every effort is being made to concentrate revitalization efforts within a few blocks to have greater impact on the streets being targeted. In 2008, HOP homes have sold up to $129,900, nearly twice the average selling price for the MLS® area it is located in. The City of Winnipeg is also a huge benefactor of our initiative, given the fact that we have substantially increased the assessment base.  

HOP is an acronym for Housing Opportunity Partnership. HOP believes that home ownership brings stability to a neighbourhood. Homeowners are keenly aware of their investment and want to ensure it is maintained and will appreciate over time. The more homeowners in an area, the greater likelihood of neighbourhood rejuvenation, as all homeowners have a monetary incentive in protecting the equity in their home. HOP intentionally chooses streets that already have a homeownership base so that new homeowners have existing homeowners with similar aspirations.

HOP is well aware Winnipeg has one of the best housing affordability indexes in the country, which translates to over thirty per cent of renters being able to afford a home. At the same time, many of these renters who have sufficient income to qualify for a mortgage may not have saved enough money to cover the required downpayment and closing costs. HOP helps in this regard by providing direction to potential homeowners toward available government grants.

HOP, to date, has had four key sources of funding and support. Since 1997, HOP has received over $600,000 from the Manitoba Securities Commission. This funding came from interest money earned from real estate broker trust accounts. There is a special provision in The Real Estate Brokers Act that HOP lobbied for in 1996, that allows the Manitoba Securities Commission to provide funding from money collected by the government on interest earned in broker trust accounts, for not-for-profit initiatives that promote affordable home ownership and area revitalization.

Another important source of funding for HOP came from a Winnipeg Development Agreement Home Equity program. It resulted in HOP receiving $500,000 in 1998 through to 2000. This funding was administered by the federal government under Human Resources Development Canada.

The third major supporter is the Winnipeg Real Estate Board (now WinnipegREALTORS®). The WREB provided initial seed money of $25,000, but more importantly, has spearheaded the entire HOP program and continues to support the program in kind through its staff and facilities.

HOP also receives funding from the Winnipeg Housing and Homelessness Initiative (WHHI) for "market gap funding" for each newly acquired HOP home. HOP recognizes WHHI's continuing financial support of HOP's efforts in revitalizing Winnipeg's West End community.

HOP can proudly state that it has positively impacted the West End area that it has targeted over the past years. The results speak for themselves. Since 1999, the average resale home price in this MLS® area HOP has targeted has gone up nearly 100 per cent.

In carrying out HOP's mission, we are setting an example for other housing initiatives in Winnipeg and elsewhere to bring back neighbourhoods that are losing their housing stock. In doing so, we are creating a good supply of affordable housing by stabilizing an entire community. It cannot be emphasized enough, that by sticking to our home ownership thrust, we are successfully bringing a renewed commitment to the area through these new homeowners. Through our innovative program and efforts, HOP homebuyers have now been able to have their home ownership dreams come true.

The other piece of this effort is that HOP is a catalyst for other groups and individuals to do the same. The fact that sales are really picking up in the area is a great indication that people are willing to reinvest once again! HOP is incorporated as "not-for-profit" and currently has six board of directors. Lori Thorsteinson, President has been with HOP for the past several years and is passionate about the HOP's work in the revitalization of the West End of Winnipeg. 

President
Lori Thorsteinson
Loren Realty / Parkhill Homes

Vice-President
Linda Ring

Retired Neighbourhood Planner

Past-President
Peter Squire
WinnipegREALTORS™

Secretary-Treasurer
Dale McMurray
Assiniboine Credit Union

Directors:
Geoff Davis
Royal Lepage Dynamic

Kim McConnell
C21 Advanced Realty

Trudy Turner

RE/MAX Performance Realty

Member-at-Large:
Terry Wotton

Manitoba Corporation Representative
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation  


In conclusion, HOP is making a real difference by providing cost effective affordable housing solutions to Winnipeg's serious inner city housing issues. "Thanks to HOP our life-long dream to own our own home has come true. I can't begin to tell you how much we appreciated the hands-on concern and care given by HOP." R. Drury, HOP Home Owner.

For more information, contact: Frank Zappia 204-772-2100 or email him at  frank@zappiagroup.com.