Like many professional couples, Yanni Thepanya and Remo Lass didn't think home ownership in Toronto was attainable for them. Student loan repayment and a focus on establishing their careers made saving for a down payment difficult. Meanwhile, prices in Toronto's hot real estate market kept escalating out of reach. Fortunately, Yanni and Remo discovered Options for Homes and were able to purchase at The Humber; they're now eagerly waiting the completion of their one-bedroom-plus-den.
Stories like this – ones of middle income earners struggling to afford home ownership in a runaway market – caught the attention of Toronto Star real estate reporter Tess Kalinowski, who profiled Options (paywall) and our model of down payment support as one of the only affordable housing programs that offers ownership opporunities to those who would otherwise be shut out of real estate.
"As governments finally rally to the need for affordable housing in Toronto, there’s a growing awareness that moderate income earners like Thepanya and Lass are being squeezed out of the market — they earn too much to qualify for subsidized housing, but struggle to save for a down payment," Kalinowski wrote in the article.
She also referenced a report released last fall by the Toronto Region Board of Trade and WoodGreen Community Services that called the Options model one of the most viable models for helping to solve that problem. "Its shared equity financing program has the potential to be scaled up for that middle earner group," she wrote.
This feature recognizes the reality we see daily at Options – that the housing market has shifted so dramatically, people who could purchase less than 10 years ago see themselves on the outside of the market looking in. As Options CEO Heather Treamin told Kalinowski: “We serve a group who — left on their own — would not be able to get into the market."
“We’re a unicorn in the world of housing,” said Tremain. “We’re delivering really good social benefits without a lot of government support. We’re doing it under our own steam. We add a lot of value without taking a lot.”
Read the full article in the Toronto Star.
(Photo: Rene Johnston, Toronto Star)