Housing program warms up homeowners

Training, advice offered to inner city owners

With the Housing Training Initiative, Larry Kinnear helps new homeowners take care of their house. Cindy Titus

Despite his busy holiday schedule, Larry Kinnear took some time this December to explain the inner workings of furnaces to a recently landed Vietnamese family.

“They turned if off Christmas Eve because it was making noises,” Kinnear said. “So I spent a day with them showing them the ins and outs of their home, including telling them that their furnace should be making those noises.”

This newly arrived family is not the only one in need of some homeownership assistance. The Housing Training Initiative (HTI) is a program offering free advice, house calls and workshops on home maintenance to residents of the Spence, North End, Daniel McIntyre and St. Matthews communities.

The program mainly targets the low income homeowners of the city’s oldest homes, but is also available to anyone who shows interest.

“Unfortunately, most people haven’t acquired the skills for the problems they come across,” said Kinnear, the program’s co-ordinator, who does free house calls with all interested clients.

Unfortunately, most people haven’t acquired the skills for the problems they come across.

Larry Kinnear, Housing Training Initiative

The program helps many new Canadians who have taken advantage of Manitoba’s Affordable Housing Initiative, said Don Miedema, housing co-ordinator for the Spence Neighbourhood Association.

This month, the workshop focuses on winter home maintenance.

“Ice damming is the main problem” for inexperienced home owners, Kinnear said. Ice damming is the accumulation of ice near the eaves, which dams melting snow and causes water to seep between the shingles.

The program was started in 2004 with a partial grant of $32,500 from the provincial Neighbourhoods Alive!

It is now funded by the participating communities’ associations, along with the Winnipeg Housing Rehabilitation Corporation (WHRC) and Neighbourhoods Alive!

Richard Dilay, manager for Neighbourhoods Alive!, said workshops cover everything from changing a furnace filter to installing a new furnace.

“The program applies to tenants of homes and apartments as well as homeowners,” Dilay said.

The HTI service fills a much needed gap. Rob Neufeld, executive director of the North End Community Renewal Corporation, reports an increase in home ownership in his community.

“As a former builder, I think this program is worth it,” Neufeld said.

The program has also enabled communities to learn from one another, said Stephanie Haight, project manager with WHRC, which administers the program.

“It creates a support network within and between communities,” she said.

The program will be offering workshops on mortgages in February.

“I recommend every homeowner and potential homeowner take these courses,” Miedema said.

Those interested in HTI services, contact Larry Kinnear at 949-2890 or email him at hti [at] whrc.ca.

Published in Volume 63, Number 16 of The Uniter (January 15, 2009)

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