London partnership helps local family realize dream of home ownership

    LONDON, ON, March 22 /CNW/ - A London family received the keys to their
new home today at an event to mark the completion of the city's first Home at
Last affordable home ownership project.
    Andrew Neilson, Vicki Schnurr and their daughters Arianna and Talia are
moving into their new Lovett Street home following extensive renovations,
which began last November.
    Home at Last is a public-private partnership made up of the London and
St. Thomas Association of REALTORS(R), the London Home Builders Association
(LHBA), the London Affordable Housing Foundation and Canada Mortgage and
Housing Corporation (CMHC). The goal of this partnership is to help families
currently residing in assisted housing achieve their dream of home ownership
and, in turn, to free up an assisted housing unit for a household on the
London and Middlesex Housing Corporation's waiting list.
    "On March 8, 2005, two years ago, we invited a number of groups to the
table to discuss a pilot home ownership project - something similar to Habitat
for Humanity, but with a renovation instead of a new build. We wanted a way of
giving back to the community that would be sustainable over time. That was how
the Home at Last partnership was born," said Mike Carson, President of the
London and St. Thomas Association of REALTORS(R).
    "The cooperation and support we have gotten from all sides has been
overwhelming. From the moment we secured the property, donations have been
flooding in. As for our Members, they've been involved in every aspect of the
renovation. We couldn't be prouder of them or of the great job they've done,"
said Carmine Gargarella, Chair of the London Home Builders Association's
Community Service Committee.
    "There is a real need for more affordable housing in our community and
Home at Last is one way to address that need. The project is intended to
remove obstacles to home take down barriers. It's an exercise
in community building," said Sister Joan Atkinson, Chair of the London
Affordable Housing Foundation.
    The project also served as a field classroom for high school construction
students who observed, and at times, assisted LHBA members with the
renovation. While onsite students were supervised by their teacher and
qualified tradesmen and builders.
    "The success of the Home at Last initiative can be attributed to the
dedication of the community partners," said Peter Friedman, General Manager of
CMHC's Ontario Business Centre. "We are proud to contribute to this
partnership with funding through CMHC's Residential Rehabilitation Assistance
Program (RRAP)."
    "We're so excited to be moving into our own home. The girls are really
looking forward to having their own bedrooms and we're looking forward to
starting our own garden this spring. We really do appreciate all the support
we've received and what everyone has contributed to make this possible," said
homeowners Andy Neilson and Vicki Schnurr.
    In addition to the contributions from the Home at Last partners, the City
of London provided a grant for the renovations and London individuals and
corporations have donated goods and services.

For further information:

For further information: Media Inquiries: For Comment: Mike Carson,
President, LSTAR, (519) 672-9880; Lois Langdon, Executive Director, LHBA,
(519) 686-0343; Carmine Gargarella, Chair, Community Service Committee, LHBA,
(519) 652-1455; For Background: Melissa Hardy-Trevenna, Director of
Communications, LSTAR, (519) 641-1400; Beth Bailey, Communications Consultant,
CMHC, (416) 218-3355

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