Photo above is of Mike Labbe, Options for Homes Founder and CEO.
By Beverly Browne
Pride Contributing Writer
TORONTO, Ontario – Since 1994, Toronto‐based non‐profit organizations Options for Homes (Options) and Home Ownership Alternatives (HOA) have been helping lower-income singles and families realize their dreams of owning a home.
With the belief that home ownership should be accessible to everyone, they’ve assisted numerous people with incomes as low as $20,000 a year, buy a place to call their own.
On October 6,– World Habitat Day, no less – to mark the companies’ 20th anniversary, they’re hosting a special gathering (soiree) to highlight their accomplishments. Throughout the world since 1986, World Habitat Day has been observed annually on the first Monday of October. Officially designated by the United Nations, the purpose of the day is to reflect on the basic human right for each person to have satisfactory shelter. It’s also a reminder of the world’s environmental responsibility to others who are less fortunate, and to future generations.
The Options celebration takes place at the historic Enoch Turner Schoolhouse, which was Toronto’s first free school. At that time, the school provided basic education to children who would otherwise have been denied. It was a boon to working class children in the 19th century. Today the schoolhouse is used for special events, such as the Options soiree, and is a perfect place to host a celebration like World Habitat Day, which highlights basic needs of people not numbered among the richest.
Company President and CEO, Mike Labbé, says, “The Options and HOA cost‐effective home ownership model has added an important element to the collection of solutions to affordable housing in Toronto. I’m proud to share in this celebration with all of our partners who have helped us support so many home ownership dreams over the years.”
With an ever-mindful eye on helping people who need the most help, the companies will contribute to each unit purchased, if buyers want such assistance. It becomes an option that’s available. The contribution is in the form of a second mortgage, boosting potential buyers’ down payment.
What’s great about the loan is that it doesn’t have to be repaid until you sell or rent your suite. At that time, this optional loan appreciates by the same percentage as the resale value of the home and must be paid back in full. The repaid loans then go to create new, cost-effective homes for other home buyers.
In the Toronto area, eight Options condos have been completed and are occupied. Two more are currently under construction. Marketing Co-coordinator, Jessica Speziale, says construction begins when 75% of the units have been sold.
Since developing its first condominium in The Distillery District in 1994, Options has created homes for over 6500 households. The company is affiliated with organizations in Kingston, Waterloo-Wellington, Kitchener, Cambridge, and Montreal, and as far as Limbe, Cameroon. In each case, the Options business model was used to create communities, with affordability and conservation in mind.
Beyond simple home ownership, Options has other innovative developments. These include a service that allows unit owners to save up to 30-40% on their energy bills: and a car sharing program that provides personal transportation, without the expense of full-time automotive ownership.
The October 6 celebration will involve a number of prolific supporters. Besides Options company founder and CEO Mr. Labbe, and HOA CEO, Jens Lohmueller, the evening will also include speeches by the Mayor of Limbe, Cameroon, Options for Homes Cameroon CEO, Henry Neba, as well as Options homeowners.
As with any special function, refreshments will be served in the form of hors d’oeuvres and cocktails. Admission is free.
“The acceleration of our ability to do more and more has been humbling. Good people all around the world are now sharing our vision for sustainable economic development through cost‐effective homeownership, and thousands will benefit,” says Mr. Labbé.
Enoch Turner Schoolhouse is at 106 Trinity St. in Toronto. The event starts at 6:00pm. For more information, contact Jessica Speziale at 416-867-1501 ext. 224.