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May 2, 2021

Lorne Weiss on the Manitoba Tipi Mitawa housing program

Lorne Weiss on the Manitoba Tipi Mitawa housing program

Lorne Weiss is Co-Chair of the Manitoba Tipi Mitawa program. In this episode we talk about how through a partnership by the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs and the Manitoba Real Estate Association, The Manitoba Tipi Mitawa (MTM) program helps First Nations f...


Lorne Weiss is Co-Chair of the Manitoba Tipi Mitawa program. In this episode we talk about how through a partnership by the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs and the Manitoba Real Estate Association, The Manitoba Tipi Mitawa (MTM) program helps First Nations families wishing to purchase their first home.

Transcript

Adrian:

I'm joined today by Lorne Weiss, who is a real estate agent with CENTURY 21, amongst many other community involvements here in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Welcome, Lorne.

Lorne:

Thank you, Adrian. Thank you for inviting me.

Adrian:

So first of all, let's get a little personal. Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and your role with Tipi Mitawa?

Lorne:

Well, I've been a realtor for some 35 years in Winnipeg and surrounding area, and it's actually a second career for me that I made a switch. I won't say at what age, but well into my first career and decided I wanted to spend more time at home with my family, which is strange that I would choose real estate for that, but it's actually worked out very well. Since my time in real estate, I've been very, very fortunate to be involved in a number of real-estate-related organizations. I've served as a president of the Winnipeg Regional Real Estate Board, I've been on the board of the Canadian Real Estate Association, and I've been a president and a board member for many years over the Manitoba Real Estate Association.

Lorne:

My involvement with Manitoba Tipi Mitawa goes back some 15 years ago, and it was brought to my attention by a colleague and friend, who was also as a past president of the Manitoba Real Estate Association, Harry DeLeeuw. In the course of his business, he was dealing with firms that were doing housing for First Nations people in Northern Manitoba. And he came to the realization, and fact, housing is a problem for First Nation people no matter where they live in Manitoba, including urban areas. And the numbers were staggering. We saw that most Manitobans, 66% of Manitobans, enjoy the privilege and the comfort of owning their own home. Within First Nations families living off reserves, that number was below third. It was around 30%, and that's a very, very great disparity. And Harry felt that there was something that we could do as an association, and as realtors, to try and change that. So that took us to where we were getting with Manitoba Tipi Mitawa.

Adrian:

And what has it become? What is it now?

Lorne:

Well, right now, after a few years of going out and dealing with stakeholders and talking to them to see what it is that we could do to partner with the indigenous community, to create opportunities for home ownership, we entered into a partnership with the Assembly Manitoba Chiefs some 15 years ago. And that was for us to work together, create an environment where we would provide opportunities for First Nations' families living off reserve in urban areas to assist them to own their own home, and also to provide capacity building so that when they took on home ownership, they had the skillset to make sure that they were successful with it. And since that time, we had put 27 families into homes and over the next 12 months, we'll put another 10 families into the homes to Manitoba Tipi Mitawa.

Adrian:

What organizations are involved with this effort?

Lorne:

Our partner has been Assiniboine Credit Union, who have been a very valuable partner to us because they have helped us with doing the initial interviews with potential clients to make sure they are able to qualify for a mortgage. And under our program, there were two major qualifications. From the financial side is one is they have to have a credit rating that would be acceptable to CMHC, to provide insurance for the mortgage. And they have to have a show that they had an income that was within the limits as provided by our major funder, the Government of Manitoba, through their housing department. And beyond that, they did an initial interview to qualify applicants and those who weren't able to qualify on a short-term. And they helped out with advice on how to work towards increasing their credit rating and reducing their debt so they could qualify.

Lorne:

We have had a few, actually, have come back two years after being refused and been able to qualify are now owning their own homes. Beyond that, our major partner along with the credit union has been the Manitoba Government. The Manitoba [inaudible 00:04:37] through housing has been very, very supportive of us in terms of providing the housing, the down payment amounts that are required in order to fill our program needs. Also, the Manitoba Real Estate Association has split a lot of work and money into the program. We provide staffing for the program and we provide one-and-a-half full-time staff people to the program. As part of our contribution to the program, we also been able to access funds based on interest of broker's trust accounts, which normally goes back into government revenue. We've been able to access those funds to help with the down payment process and the education process that all of our candidates must go through before we allow them to go out and look for their first home.

Adrian:

You mentioned at the beginning of our discussion the importance of family to you. Can you give an example of a recent family that the Tipi Mitawa program has been able to help, and what impact it had on that family?

Lorne:

I can give you one that I found that was very emotional to me. And this happened a few years ago when we had some of our first intakes coming through and it was getting close to Christmas time, and we had six or eight families at that point that had just moved into their home in the preceding few months, and we decided that it would be a nice way to welcome into their home. So Harry and I, and a representative from the Assembly Manitoba Chiefs, we loaded up a pickup truck with Christmas trees. They even knew we were coming, and it was amazing to watch the expressions on the children's faces as they were jumping up and down in the window of their living rooms or dining rooms, watching us bring the Christmas tree into the house. And that in itself told us what this is and how this is important to families to have a place to call their own.

Lorne:

But even more so, one of the mother of one of the families that, "After all these years, I can have a Christmas tree in my house. Anytime I've been a tenant, the landlords haven't allowed Christmas trees. I can now invite my family to my house with my Christmas tree." And that sort of speaks to what the difference is. It creates a whole different commitment, it creates a different environment, and it encourages people to stretch out and grow beyond where they were last year or the year before. And I think that's the value that's been up at Tipi Mitawa along with the fact that it's a great role model to show that housing opportunities are available to First Nations' families living off reserve, and they don't have to stay as renters and continually moving from place-to-place, and having their kids in schools that are changed every year or every couple of years.

Lorne:

The kids are putting down roots, the friends that they meet in elementary school likely to be their friends going right through to high school. And it really creates an environment which tends to immunize these kids from being easy targets for gang membership. So we think there's a whole social benefit to the program, as well as the housing benefit, and certainly the benefit of increasing net worth and becoming financially independent. So those are the benefits.

Adrian:

Is there any way that the community as a whole can support this cause or get involved?

Lorne:

There is a way. It's really important. There's a lot of hands out for social housing, and much of the money goes into rental housing, but ours is a different program. We provide home ownership. What does that do? It allows families A., to become much more stable within their community, and it shows them to be in a more stable environment that also increases their ability to increase their net worth. The countless studies have shown that when you take a renter and a homeowner comparison side-by-side, at the end of 10 years, 15 years, and 20 years, homeowners, their value is much, much higher than the renter's. And that's because this equity growth has increased over the years. And for many people, that's the most important part of their savings portfolio or their retirement portfolio. So that's been the real big benefit, I think, to a lot of the families, and their extended families, that they are able to provide that stable environment and a chance for financial and independent growth.

Adrian:

What do you love about Winnipeg real estate, given you've been in the industry for such a long time?

Lorne:

I love the action. I've always been a sales person, and I love the art of a deal. And I can get as excited about selling a small house or condominium as doing a large commercial project. I just love the art of a deal I find that's challenging. At the end of the day, you really help somebody by using the knowledge that you have and the experience that you have, skills that you have, to get them to where they want to be. What's their goal in this endeavor? Is it a bigger house, is it a smaller house, is it that [inaudible 00:09:37] financial problem, or a family problem? Or is it a exciting growth issue? We're there for all of it, and it's like every day is different. I can tell you there isn't an industry that isn't got all kinds of problems. And certainly when you're dealing with human emotions, there's a lot of problems often crop up.

Lorne:

And I have never had a day in this business where I will woke up in the morning and say, "Oh, I hate what I'm doing. I don't want to go to work." There are problems, but the value and the satisfaction I'm able to get from doing what I do, not only in my career, but also the changes that we're helping in a very small way to make through organizations like Manitoba Tipi Mitawa, REALTORS Care, and it goes on. And as a realtor, and my fellow realtors are all the same. We're great volunteers. We love to volunteer. We like to get involved, and that's part of it. We have the freedom to be able to do that, and we have the will to do it. So it's a great choice. Is it an easy living? Is it competitive? It certainly is competitive, and it can be really tough sometimes, but I never would have imagined how rewarding it is. And I've had to do my life all over again, it wouldn't have been my second career; it would have been my first career.

Adrian:

How can people find out more about the Manitoba Tipi Mitawa program?

Lorne:

We do have download brochure available on the Manitoba Real Estate Association website. We also welcome people who feel that they can have a skillset that can contribute to our board of directors. We'd like to talk to them. We're looking for people who have organizational ability, who have fundraising ability, and have other skill sets that would help Tipi Mitawa grow. We'd like to take this program to the point where it's much, much larger than it is, and it has implications right across the country. Both Harry and I have, over the years, literally spoken to groups from Halifax to Vancouver Island, First Nations and indigenous groups about the concept behind Manitoba Tipi Mitawa. And it's gotten a great response that we think it's got a great opportunity to help people to realize some of their life goals through some assistance and capacity building. So if your listeners have an interest in that, and they want to get involved, we're happy to hear from them. I'm happy to hear from them.

Adrian:

Yeah. And finally, Lorne, how can people reach you directly?

Lorne:

The best way to reach me is, I don't make any secret about my cell number. It's (204) 955-7544. And if they prefer to reach me by email, it's lorne@lorneweiss, L-O-R-N-E-W-E-I-S-S dot com, and I'm happy to hear from anybody who's willing to help. Another thing that people can do is talk about the program, talk about the program to their MLAs and to their city counselors. Let them know what's going on in this area, and that funding for programs like ours is really important for the growth of the community. And I guess the last thing that I'd like to say is one of the reasons we got involved in things like Tipi Mitawa and REALTORS Care is we really believe in a quality of life approach.

Lorne:

And that's creating a community where there's good employment opportunities, where it's safe, where there is affordable housing, and there's good educational opportunities. And if we can create that kind of community, it not only benefits the direct beneficiaries of that, it benefits all of us who are part of that community. And that's why, and I know when I speak for our fellow realtors across this province and across this country, that that's why we do what we do.

Adrian:

Lorne, thank you for your involvement and effort in this program, and thank you for your time today.

Lorne:

Always a pleasure, Adrian. Thank you.

Lorne Weiss

Lorne Weiss brings a wealth of experience with him; a practioner in commercial and residential real estate in Winnipeg since 1987 and prior to that active in sales and marketing both in Canada and overseas since 1970.

In the course of his Real Estate career, Lorne has been active in volunteer activities associated with the Winnipeg Real Estate Board. During this time he has served as President of the Board of Directors, a member and co-chair of the Commercial Division of the WREB, chair of the Finance Committee, and a member and chair of the Civic & Legislative Affairs Committee of the WREB. He has represented the WREB on various task forces such as the City of Winnipeg / Winnipeg Real Estate Board joint task force on multiple-use zoning and building code equivalencies and the City of Winnipeg Assessment Review Committees. In addition, he has made presentations to the Capital Region task force and the Mayor’s forum on property taxes on behalf of the WREB. Currently Lorne is an Alternate Broker with Century 21 Bachman & Associates; the President of Weiss & Weiss Real Estate Consultants Inc., Chair of the Manitoba Real Estate Association Political Action Committee, a member of the Canadian Real Estate Association Board of Directors and Past President of the Winnipeg Real Estate Board.