When home improvements become necessary, but you don’t have the budget to make repairs, there are often few options. Many people choose to leave repairs undone, which may result in injury, high utility costs, decreased home value or even just feeling unsafe in one’s own home.
The Housing Opportunities Program for Edmonton, or HOPE, assists low-income homeowners in Edmonton making necessary repairs to their homes. The program provides one-time grant assistance for up to $20,000 for qualifying homeowners. All applicants are also automatically considered for an additional $2,000 for energy efficient upgrades.
For Gerry Kemp, HOPE meant he could install special non-slip flooring, crucial to his safety after suffering several bad falls. Gerry, a former environmental consultant, is also interested in using his HOPE loan to reduce his carbon footprint and in turn, his utility bills.
Through HOPE, Elena Zerea had several necessary repairs completed to her home. After living in McCauley for over 10 years, she knew her house needed serious work but was intimidated by the process. One of Elena’s friends told her about HOPE and despite her initial reservations about calling, Elena completed the application and initial home inspection with the help of Dennis Lee, building inspector for the HOPE program. She was able to use the experience of City building inspectors to negotiate with contractors, assess her home’s efficiency and repair the large cracks in her foundation.
HOPE was launched in 2013 as a pilot program in six inner city neighborhoods. HOPE was the City response to the end of the Federal Residential Rehabilitation Assistance Program (RRAP) and was intended to demonstrate the need for programs of this type. Its success gave way to an expansion in 2014, extending the program across the city. HOPE allows qualifying homeowners bring their homes to a minimum standard of health and safety relating to:
Plumbing (e.g. sewer line replacement)
Electrical (e.g. wiring replacement)
Fire Safety (e.g. smoke alarm replacement)
Heating (e.g. furnace replacement)
Structural (e.g. foundation leaks repaired)
Energy Efficiency (e.g. attic and basement insulation)
Disability Modifications (e.g. ramp installation)
These improvements can foster a sense of safety and can help homeowners through the arduous process of home renovation. Elena was thankful for HOPE Inspector Dennis and his ability to explain the process and to help mediate the contractor and engineers involved in the project. HOPE can also contribute to a neighbourhood’s character by preserving older homes and keeping residents in the communities where they have put down roots.
The HOPE program came to an end as of December 2016.