TRUST the Church to come up with a creative solution to help families drowning in an expensive housing market.
Since 2008, a Catholic on Brisbane’s west who bequeathed her home to the Jubilee parish has helped three families save up for a deposit on a house.
Known as the Head Start Program, the parish-based initiative offers young families the chance to “get off the rental merry-go-round” and buy their first home.
The method is simple – one young family moves into Quinn House and pays as much rent as they can afford, with room to increase payments as the budget allows.
At the end of their rental period, the family then receives all their rental contributions to use as a deposit on their first home.
The only requirement for the couple is to maintain a connection with the parish community, which covers the suburbs of Paddington, Ashgrove, Bardon, Herston, Newmarket, Petrie Terrace, Red Hill and Rosalie.
Parish pastoral council chair Norm Shrubsole said Quinn House paved the way for a “creative and potentially life-changing” solution to the high cost of housing in Brisbane.
“It is probably the only house in Australia where the tenants periodically come to you and ask to put their rent up,” Mr Shrubsole said.
The program is much-needed support to young families who are finding the dream of owning a house shifting further from reality.
Colombian migrants Alex and Yenny Malaver and their son Gabriel, 4, are the third family to benefit from the housing initiative.
“As a student trying to complete my course and as migrants from Colombia, the dream of purchasing one day our own home seemed so remote,” Mr Malaver said.
The Malavers also visit the hospital regularly for their son Gabriel, who was born with a rare for of progeria, known as Wiedemann Rautenstrauch Syndrome, that causes premature ageing.
When they saw the program advertised in the parish newsletter, they were overwhelmed by its simplicity.
What seemed to be a distant dream is now reality for the young family when after three years in Quinn House put the deposit down on a unit in Herston last month.
“We are just so excited and so grateful,” Mrs Malaver said.
Mrs Malaver hoped other parishes in Brisbane and even Australia would consider replicating the program in their own communities so other struggling families could have a chance at owning their first home.
At least 100 families in Brisbane could call themselves homeowners over several years if parishes in the archdiocese, which totals to 97, took up the project.
Jubilee parish priest Fr Peter Brannelly said the Head Start Program honoured their faithful parishioner and home owner Mrs Quinn but used her house “in service of the Gospel”.
“The most valuable asset we have as a parish in this part of Brisbane is accommodation and we have consciously tried to be creative with what we have and how we use it,” Fr Brannelly said.
He said as well as young families, the Jubilee parish was also accommodating pensioners, refugees, asylum seekers and overseas students.
“And they come from places as diverse as the Congo, Iran, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Afghanistan and India,” Fr Brannelly said.
Next month the parish will begin the discernment process to find a new family to take up residence at Quinn House.
Parish finance council member Frank Long said projects like the Head Start Program were only possible because of the generous financial support of Jubilee parishioners.
“Ultimately this is practical evangelisation by the parishioners of Jubilee,” Mr Long said.