Affordable housing initiative seeking investors

Anhart Homes Manitoba property acquisition consultant Charlie Macleod spoke to potential investors on Jan. 7 about Anhart’s proposed affordable housing initiative. (LAUREN MACGILL, Morden Times)

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An affordable housing initiative is looking for potential investors in the community.

Anhart Homes Manitoba recently secured 843 and 847 Thornhill Street in Morden under contract. The company is looking to build privately funded affordable housing on the 50,000 square foot site.

Property acquisition consultant Charlie Macleod said there were many reasons that led to Anhart wanting to come to Morden. “There’s a need,” he said. “0.8 per cent is a very low vacancy rate, so Morden needs affordable housing.”

One of the other reasons that made Morden stand out in the organization’s mind was the city’s work with immigration and bringing people to the community.

“We saw the programming happening at the municipal level, bringing in skilled workers that the community needs in order to prosper economically,” Macleod said. “That got us very excited. We’re very much about solving problems, which [Morden] did.”

Anhart has deep ties with Morden, as the city is the ancestral home of the organization’s founder.

Anhart’s model is to work with social impact investors, who provide low interest loans to the organization to allow them to offer lower rental rates.

“This is the way the founder described it to me when we first started talking about this,” Macleod said. “People park their money with us and let us use it to do these projects. They get it all back and they even get a little zero to three per cent on top of that.”

Macleod said the point of the return on the investment isn’t monetary. “The point is they’re investing in the community and they get a better community,” he said. “It elevates Morden, it elevates the municipality. People are paying affordable rates for rent, which means they have a bit more money to spend across the street. They’re not worried, it makes for a better, healthier community.”

“That’s why we do what we do,” he added. “This is all for the benefit of the community. That’s why I got up this morning.”

Anhart began community housing initiatives in British Columbia around 2002, and the property in Morden is part of their plan to expand their affordable housing initiative across the country.

Anhart needs an impact investment of $310,000 by mid-March to allow the project to move onto the next phase.

Beyond that, the organization will apply to Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). Macleod said on a $10 million build, an impact investment of about 10 per cent should work for getting funded.

“We could break ground if everything goes according to plan in a year and a half,” Macleod said. “We could possibly have it tenanted in three, three and a half years.”

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