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Trillium Housing is a housing developer very much unlike other housing developers. And while this introduction usually means that this home builder is remarkable for its experience, trustworthiness, or for the houses and condos it creates, in this case it means something altogether something completely different.
Unlike other housing developers that build houses to sell to clients, This developer builds homes for the purpose of giving them away — for free, or at least the next best thing.
The corporation is an independent non-profit organization dedicated to developing entry-level housing and to providing home financing to modest-income families. In other words, this housing developer not only makes affordable housing, but also goes as far to help new homeowners pay for it.
This unconventional business model is a strategic response to Canada’s unconventional housing market. As home prices continue to grow disproportionately with most people’s income, an increasing number of families are unable to fulfill their dream of owning a home.
Enter Trillium. Individually known as Joe Deschênes Smith, Richard Owen, and Fred Heller, this trio of experts who pooled together their disparate specialties in mortgages, affordable housing, real estate and construction into an initiative designed to make housing more accessible.
And, with the help of the provincial government and many generous supporters, they’ve found a way to do just that.
With each new development, eligible applicants can purchase a housing unit using a Trillium Mortgage, a loan that remains payment-free as long as homeowners own and live in this residence; if the home is sold or rented out, then this mortgage is to be repaid.
As a non-profit organization, this home builder is not interested in profiting from their clients. Instead of earning monthly interest on the mortgages, this initiative receives its share of appreciation in the homes’ value, a move that essentially means they own a piece of the homes of the people they are trying to help. And yet, when the mortgage is repaid, the home and its value wholly belongs to the buyer.
To be eligible as a home buyer under this initiative, each applicant is required to provide a minimum 5% down payment as well as a first mortgage approval from a bank, credit union or mortgage broker.
As well, the government’s affordable ownership housing thresholds requires the price of the purchased home must be below the city’s median price just as the applicant’s household income must be below the local median. Then, Trillium will work with each applicant to work out the rest.
What’s more, this program aims to be private and unobtrusive. At a Trillium Housing development, not everyone has a Trillium Mortgage, an amount which will depend on the needs of each individual home buyer. For all intents and purposes, a Trillium Mortgage is invisible to your family, friends and neighbours.
On the other hand, what is very clear is the luxuriousness of these modern residences, built to cater to contemporary urban lifestyles. The initiative’s first development, the Loop Urban Towns, has been well-received to great acclaim. This 3 acre former TTC turning station at the heart of midtown Toronto at Rogers and Bicknell Avenue has sold out all its 62 2-bedroom townhomes with starting prices at $300,000.
This success shouldn’t be unexpected considering the reputation of this developer’s collaborators. Responsible building for the Loop townhomes is VanMar Constructors, a local builder with a trusted track record of delivering quality housing products. And, as seen by Loop features and finishes that include Juliette balconies, laminate flooring, and stainless steel kitchen appliances, it is clear that all developments are made with the same care and craftsmanship befitting a luxury condominium.
As a non-profit organisation, It’s a social enterprise for which every dollar earned is reinvested back into more affordable housing. Funds are managed on a legacy basis in order to ensure all activities are focused towards the perpetuation of affordable housing.
Housing developers often define themselves to their investors as giving back to their communities; for this developer, the act of giving back begins with the clients, thereby making them the one and only real estate developers that, contrarily, invest in people.
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