By Todd Lewys
As special as REALTOR® Week is to realtors across Manitoba, this week, the celebration – which runs from November 18 to 22 – is that much more special.
That’s because an initiative that’s dear to the hearts of realtors is celebrating its ten-year anniversary.
One decade ago, the Manitoba Real Estate Association (MREA) conceived the Manitoba Tipi Mitawa (MTM) program, an initiative designed to help First Nations families purchase their first home by guiding and supporting them through educational and financial assistance.
The program – which is a partnership between the MREA, the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs and the Province of Manitoba – has come a long way in 10 years, says Harry DeLeeuw, chair of REALTOR® Week.
“We just had an event called Our Homes, Our Future, where we had a 10-year celebration of the Manitoba Tipi Mitawa program,” he says. “There was quite a lot to celebrate.”
Foremost in the celebration was the fact that 25 families – with 42 children numbered among them – are now settled in solid single-family homes in neighbourhoods across the city.
Furthermore, each family has embraced the responsibility that comes with being a homeowner.
“To date, there have been no mortgage defaults whatsoever,” he reports. “I think that’s due to our stringent qualification process and the fact that we educate applicants on things like financial management and home maintenance. We also have a home buying workshop that’s another part of an all-inclusive education program.”
There was also another reason to celebrate, this one that the Manitoba Tipi Mitawa program just gained registered charity status.
“That’s huge for us. Now that we’re a registered charity, we can not only go to the provincial government for funding, but to the public and foundations for funding as well,” says DeLeeuw. “That opens up more opportunities and will hopefully enable us to supply more houses for First Nations people.”
Most importantly, supplying houses in good neighbourhoods – applicants have the latitude to choose the area they want to live in – will provide a stable home base to operate from.
“The idea here is that creating stability will help families break the cycle of poverty through the benefits of home ownership. Living in safe, stable neighbourhoods enables families to grow and flourish. A good environment makes a huge difference in how people fare in life.”
Another component has been added to the program to further assist families in their quest for home ownership, he adds.
“Applicants with poor credit scores are now allowed to attend our financial management program. Several have already straightened out their credit score and have qualified to become homeowners through commitment and determination.”
There’s a reason why increasing numbers of people are buying into the program.
“They’ve seen how much it’s meant to families, and how home ownership can transform lives. Now that about 60 per cent of First Nations people live in urban centres, we want to do all we can to give low-to-moderate families a leg up in life.”
It’s been very gratifying to see what the Manitoba Tipi Mitawa program has meant to First Nations families, says DeLeeuw.
“Everyone involved is very proud of the progress we’ve made to date. After having seen the need and knowing how important it is to have a safe place to live, realtors just had to help,” he says. “We want to give back to the communities that we live and work in, and the Manitoba Tipi Mitawa program is one way we do our best to do that.”
To find out more about the Manitoba Tipi Mitawa program, visit manitobarealestate.com, call 204-772-0405 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org