The MNCFN Housing Department has some exciting changes taking place.

Housing has just undertaken its long-awaited Townline Estates Beautification project.

The department has contracted Bienenstock Natural Playgrounds to landscape and install a beautiful natural wood playground on the property.

Construction on the project kicked off on Monday, Sept. 12.

Two new interns were also hired on Aug. 29 using funds from the Canada Housing and Mortgage Corporation.

Wade Laforme will be assisting Housing Director Lorraine LaForme for the next 25 weeks with the possibility of an extension depending on funding from CMHC.

Ryan Thomas will be assisting Technical Resource Manager Raymond Hill-Johnson for the next 25 weeks, as well, with the possibility of an extension depending on funding from CMHC.

“That’s a big thing for us,” says Housing Director Lorraine LaForme. “I really needed someone.”

Because CMHC has provided funding for the program, the housing department has saved a lot of money, she said.

The positions will help the interns gain job skills.

“We’re teaching them all our skills of what we know,” Lorraine says.

Wade Laforme will learn all about amortization, housing agreements, etc. whereas Ryan Thomas will gain skills in the areas of building inspections and renovations, among others.

Finally, the housing department is excited to announce it just rolled out its new lender loan program. The program differs from the existing housing loan program because it allows people to borrow money to purchase an existing home on the reserve.

Eligible applicants can obtain up to $115,000 from the Housing Reserve Fund.

“If a person were to come in (and apply for a loan), what we would like to see is that they have the ability off reserve to obtain a loan,” Lorraine said.

Council has agreed to lend the money that would normally otherwise be obtained from a bank.

One person a year will be eligible for the new lender loan program.

The department has kicked off its first lender loan on a trial run and it’s going well, Lorraine said.

With council’s regular housing program, which funds the construction of two houses a year, the new program now allows the purchase/building of three new homes a year.

Housing loan amounts have also gotten a big boost. The maximum loan amount has been increased to $150,000 from its former $110,000.

“This lender loan is a whole other way to get a home,” Lorraine said.

But the money has to be used to buy an existing home on MNCFN; it’s not for new construction.

It’s also a once in a lifetime grant, meaning people can’t obtain the loan more than once.