© Times-Herald photo by Lisa Goudy
Matt and Jennifer Dominguez, Moose Jaw Habitat co-chair, discuss requests regarding two properties at the Oct. 7, 2013 executive committee meeting.
Executive approves $5,000 grant, Stadacona Street family evicted
Habitat for Humanity is aiming to have homes in all parts of Moose Jaw.
“We’ve had the city donate the last four lots to us. We’ve been fortunate enough that lot No. 5 — it’s located on Home Street — that lot is being sold to us, but for a very good price,” said Moose Jaw Habitat co-chairwoman Jennifer Dominguez. “We’re looking to move to a different area of the city. We want the Habitat houses to be in other areas around the city as well.”
At Monday’s executive committee, councillors met with Habitat for Humanity representatives to deal with two properties, one located at 517 Home St. W. and another at 905 Stadacona St. E. where, for the first time in Moose Jaw Habitat history, the family was evicted.
Dominguez said the Home Street property isn’t bought yet to make sure there would be no issues such as zoning. They requested the city provide water and sewer connections to the house.
However, Coun. Brian Swanson said while he was sure new services are required for the lot, he’d prefer the city provide a grant instead.
“I think it’s a good idea to try and move around the city. The last time Habitat for Humanity came in, it was a request for water and sewer service and it was denied,” he said. “The problem is we literally have thousands of people in a similar situation in Moose Jaw and when their service goes, they have to pay the whole shot.”
Coun. Patrick Boyle said he preferred a grant as well.
“There’s a pretty solid point to be made about covering sewer and water connections,” said Boyle. “I mean if that covers the cost, we’re effectively doing the same thing, but then it’s a grant from the city.”
The Stadacona Street East property deals with unpaid property taxes. Rob Gartner, Habitat for Humanity chief operating officer out of Regina, said the family that moved into the home on April 1 came into some “financial difficulty.”
“Rather than setting them up with a mortgage right away, we created the requirement that they clean up their financial situation,” said Gartner. “We put them on a tenancy of will, meaning that we still own the home and the family is renting the home from us for one year until such time they can prove satisfactorily they are ready to become homeowners and pay the mortgage… .
“(Recently) they have been evicted from this house due to a lot of unforeseen and unfortunate circumstances because they just weren’t able to make their payments.”
He said when a family moves into a Habitat home, there are certain criteria they must meet. The family cannot make any more than $52,000 a year and must complete 500 hours of sweat equity or volunteer work in the community, usually on the house.
“Once they fulfill those criteria, they become the new owners of the home and we sign a mortgage. Habitat is the bank in this situation. They pay us back for fair market value,” said Gartner.
Gartner said the organization would like to continue the tax exemption until a permanent family moves into the home. He added it could take six months before a new family moves in because they have to find a new family which then has to do 500 hours of volunteer work before becoming owners of the home.
But Coun. Dawn Luhning said the taxes shouldn’t be exempted any further.
“It is unfortunate that that’s happened to the group, that this is the first time it’s happened, but I do feel that the City of Moose Jaw’s piece of the puzzle is finished when it was occupied at that time,” she said. “It’s now time for Habitat to look after those unfortunate events that happened.”
Luhning moved to deny the organization’s request to extend the taxes and property taxes be charged as of April 1, the original occupancy date.
That motion, as well as the motion regarding the Home Street property, was passed unanimously.
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