MUSKOKA — A housing shortage in the district just got a little help.
Or a lot — as in $200,000 to finally put it over the top and make a dream a reality.
After more than a decade of trying, a re-purposed plan by Audrey Brown and her late husband, Fred, that began as housing community for Gravenhurst has spread to eligibility for low-income earners living anywhere in Muskoka.
Down payments for homes are now available to qualified applicants who can’t get into the housing market through banks or other private lenders.
Many families and single seniors in Muskoka are capable of paying a home’s monthly mortgage, utilities and insurance cost, but struggle to save enough money for the down payment required to buy a home, says a release from the Gravenhurst Rotary Club.
Now there is help.
The District of Muskoka is offering down payments.
Their website says, ‘The Gateway Muskoka Homeownership Program was initiated through a gift from a generous and understanding local couple who recognized the need for affordable housing programs in Muskoka. Their substantial endowment and establishment of the Gateway Homes Muskoka Non-profit Corporation, along with support from the District of Muskoka will assist over 100 families in reaching their dream of home ownership.’
At the Monday luncheon, The Rotary Club of Gravenhurst was the recipient of a cheque in the amount of $200,000 in support of the initiative of an earlier initiative.
The Rotary Club had agreed to act as a catalyst in support of down payments for families wanting an affordable home but were in need of a helping hand up.
The anonymous donation was made to Gateway Homes Muskoka to honour and thank Paul Connelly, Gord Adams, Ken Little, the Toronto United Church Council and all former members of the Gateway Homes Muskoka Advisory Board for their considerable time and effort in bringing this program to fruition.
The donor has noted to us: ‘I would like to thank the District of Muskoka, especially the efforts of Rick Williams and Gord Adams, for helping to conclude a partnership between the District of Muskoka and an initiative by the citizens of Muskoka, which has culminated in the Gateway Muskoka Homes Ownership Programme.
“There were many donations in kind leading to this success and they have been thanked personally.
“The enormous interest, energy, dedication and determination of all concerned has been instrumental toward making home ownership more attainable in Muskoka.
“The donor would like to thank those who are excited about administering this program and helping to promote it, namely, Danielle Morgan, Jackie Mattice, Samantha Hastings and again, Rick Williams who was hopeful this program had the possibility of helping at least 10 hard working dependable families each year for the next 10 years to achieve home ownership.
“Further, to know this program is going to be self-perpetuating speaks well to the integrity of the District and John Klinck in providing this assurance.”
Klinkck and Nancy Alcock, chair of the community service and planning department, accepted the cheque Monday night at the district council meeting.
Little, a Director of Gateway Homes Muskoka, said: “The District of Muskoka’s housing authority has the personnel to administer such a generous gift. They were already addressing housing needs in Muskoka, but primarily rental housing needs. These new funds offer supplemental support for the down payments required to purchase a home.
“The partnership was ideal for all parties. This would meet the aspirations of the anonymous donors who wanted to fulfill a single parent, senior or a family’s dream of home ownership, and the administrative requirements needed by Gateway Homes Muskoka.”
The Rotary Club of Gravenhurst has chosen to support this initiative as Rotary clubs throughout the world have supported other home ownership endeavours globally such as “shelter boxes” in Africa or Asia or contributing to local projects such as Habitat for Humanity with labour or financial support.
The Rotary Club would like to attract the attention of individuals or companies who are capable of contributing $20,000 to $50,000 for the down payment on a home for a needy family or individual.
Little says not only is a tax receipt available but the fund is expecting to be self-perpetuating due to the format of the program.
“Yes,” adds Little.
“If the homebuyer borrows money from the fund, they pay no interest on the amount borrowed.
However, the borrower is required to pay that money back if they sell the home within the next 20 years and if they sell the home for a profit; a portion of the profit is also due and payable to the fund, proportionately to the purchase price and the amount borrowed at the time of purchase. (A safeguard against speculation or other misuse of the intent of the fund.) If they keep the home for 20 years, the money borrowed from the fund is completely forgiven.
Donations may be made by contacting the Rotary Club of Gravenhurst, Box 888, Gravenhurst, Ontario P1P-1V2 or calling 705-687-7777.