REGINA -- A Regina resident has proposed a housing trust to help the “quality and affordability” of housing in Regina’s North Central neighbourhood. The housing trust model would be the first of its kind in Canada.

“The Regina Housing Trust model is a not for profit organization designed to provide affordable rental housing for low income families,” Jeremy Parnes explains in his proposal.

The proposal was presented to the Mayor’s Housing Commission on Tuesday.

The program would acquire rental properties in North Central by taking on the mortgages when the landlord is in a deficit or mortgage holders are facing foreclosure. It would enter into a partnership with the mortgage holder, and the pair would agree to delay mortgage payments for a period of five years, or completely forgive the mortgage of properties obtained by the trust program. Then, using the savings from the mortgage relief and the money made from rental income, the trust would invest in the repair of the homes. The homes repaired by the trust would be used for low-income housing.

Parnes says he believes that there are many properties at risk of foreclosure in the area, and expects lenders to be open to this proposal.

The proposal is based on a project Parnes consulted on in the North Central neighbourhood in 2002.

“For the three levels of government I undertook a visioning of North Central in the year 2020,” Parnes told CTV News. “Going back into North Central in the year 2017 I realize that things had not been followed through in the way that I had hoped.”

This model has not been used in Canada, but successful examples can be seen in the United States and the U.K. where trust have been utilized to improve stock and access to affordable housing.

Parnes said he put the proposal together after working on a housing trust in London, England that he called “highly successful”, and is still successful 50 years later.

The proposal has been reviewed by City Administration who says that the trust would help respond to longstanding issues in Regina’s North Central neighbourhood such as poor housing, vacant lots, population loss and falling home prices.

Parnes said the model sees success by addressing the people, rather than the place they live.

“The idea is to see first the physical condition of the home and what needs to be done to make it better,” Parnes said. “Then to go into the process of getting to know the tenants, what’s the social capital that we’re dealing with here? What are the opportunities? What are they bringing to the table and how can we support that in the community?”

He said a big part of the housing trust is empowering people. Parnes said the housing trust in London saw home renovation companies grow from the community, and continue to work within that community.

He said the local housing trust building a partnership with the Regina Trades and Skills Centre would be a step in that direction.