Housing with Purpose Construction: Social enterprise creating transformation in affordable housing

At the end of August, Kalen Taylor was waiting anxiously for the next stage of a project Purpose Construction (PC) was heading up. As executive director of the social enterprise, Taylor had been partnering with several organizations to build their first new home in Winnipeg's North End. If everything went right, the walls - constructed by trainees at Stoney Mountain, and by people who might come to work for PC when they got out - and the roof, would go up in one day.

The foundation of the house had needed some adjustments - an extra foot needed to be poured, and Taylor knew that bringing all the pieces together might require some more patience. But the normal delays in building a home could not put a damper on their spirit.

The non-profit business, besides building and upgrading homes, provides employment, and training to people facing barriers to employment - working with the Indigenous, newcomer and 2SLGBTQIA communities.

The walls went up the first week of September.

Purpose Construction was a recipient of the 2023 Spirit of Community Award from the Manitoba Non-Profit Housing Association at the end of that month.

The affordable four-bedroom, two-story walkup in the North End will offer a family a chance at independence and purposeful life. It is just the first of many homes they intend to develop on vacant city lots.

According to Taylor, the property will be 20% more energy efficient than the standard Winnipeg home, (and something they are well aware of in their old Wolseley home.) "This will keep the energy bills extremely low. We want to focus on building a house with low long-term operating costs for the family."

Using an innovative shared-equity mortgage, in partnership with several organizations, the social enterprise will be able to offer homes to low income families without a downpayment, and standard start-up costs of home ownership.

Jason Whitford, Executive Director of End Homelessness Manitoba, illustrates that programs such as these are more valuable than ever. He hopes to see an increase in them throughout the city.

"This project is highly impactful; the family can build equity. Becoming a homeowner means so much to a family, breaking a cycle of poverty and giving children stability and pride," Whitford says.

"Without the city of Winnipeg's contribution of the land, this wouldn't have been possible," explains Whitford.

PC is currently partnering with several organizations from Manitoba Tipi Mitawa (MTM), End Homelessness, and the Home Depot Foundation to build the home for an eligible First Nations family. The project is expected to be finished early 2023.

Felisha Mitchell, Local Journalism Reporter, The Leaf