“The question becomes ‘how do you keep doing this when you don’t have support?’ It takes a whole lot of time now to be doing this marketing,” said Isaac. “We’ve already had industry support, but we’re going to need more of it.”
Courting industry leaders is one option, but another is selling the houses the program produces. In the past, materials used in construction were covered, allowing the program to donate the homes. But, without funding, Trade Winds hopes to recoup some of the cost by putting the homes on the market.
“We’re up to it and we will sell those homes. We have big interest in them,” Isaac said.
Pricing sits at around $75,000 for the studio model and $120,000 for the bigger, one-bedroom model. Those numbers don’t include extraneous costs associated with moving and connecting the homes to the grid.
Greg Dureski, manager of residential construction, said keeping the costs low gives lower income Albertans a realistic chance of owning a home.
“How do you step into (the market) at $600,000? But if you could step in at $150,000 it’s now achievable,” he said. “Your down payment is realistic. Your monthly payments are realistic.”
But how many houses Trade Winds can sell relies on how many they can produce — which in turn relies on how many students are enrolled. With a training cost of $15,000 per student, the number of students Trade Winds can accept is tied to its level of funding. In 2019, when the program was enjoying robust support from the Government of Canada, Alberta and Indigenous and industry partners, it had 281 students. Today, that number sits at less than half of what it once was.