Humboldt based property developer Andrew Breker is hoping to contribute to a partial solution for a tight market in affordable housing. He and business partner Kalen Kunz of Breker Kunz Properties have purchased the trailer park on Humboldt’s southside with an eye to expanding and developing forty lots that could potentially house forty families. With Humboldt’s growth potential activated, Breker sees the need for lower cost housing and hopes that mobile and newly built modular homes are the answer. 

Breker appeared before Humboldt City Council at their regular meeting on May 24 to pitch the merits of modular housing and to seek the City’s support in doing so.

One of the hopes is to be able to move in available mobile homes, which are becoming more scarce, and renovate them to have readily available single family homes. Among the challenges Breker faces is the move in permits and physical inspection. By bringing in homes to Humboldt, the value is boosted given that owners or renters would not be paying unduly high lease or “padding” fees. The renovations would provide further value, says Breker. 

Breker requested Council to consider the option of a visual inspection via technology, using existing communication platforms to perform what would otherwise be a costly inspection.

“The deals on homes are getting harder and harder to come by: we’re starting to have to look at things in Alberta, Manitoba and further south,” noted Breker. “By the time you send two city employees (for inspections) with mileage and hourly rate it can become a fairly big expense.” 

Breker contends that by doing off-site inspections electronically, the volume of potential homes increases. 

Breker also has a vision for spaces that would serve the increased demand for “tiny homes”, small footprint modular dwellings that could still house a single family. Currently, City of Humboldt bylaws prohibit dwellings of under 75 square metres. Breker seeks an amendment to the bylaw that would allow for smaller units, around 40 square meters. This would allow for placement of the homes that have become increasingly popular.

“Part of me thinks there will be a new wave of smaller modular homes. They will be more cost efficient. People care less about the space when times are tough, if they can get a home cheaper.”

Breker explained that there are companies fabricating such two bedroom homes that are easily moved. He foresees the tiny home revolution as a rebranding tool for mobile homes. 

Finally, Breker moved on to drainare issues hampering access for homeowners. He offered solutions where his partnership and the City would work together. The areas in question are along 10th St. near First Avenue and drainage along Saskatchewan Avenue. 

Humboldt is undoubtedly seeing an increased demand for affordable housing, says Breker, and he notes that he and Kunz are on the front lines of meeting that demand. 

“We’ve been seeing this for about a year and a half now, where people are phoning and looking for places to rent, for places to buy, and it seems to be the case all over the province. We are running out of single family homes, and apartments are starting to fill. We really have an opportunity to relieve that in Humboldt with the 34 vacant lots we have.”

Council stated that they would pursue the requests further by consulting with Breker to bring back additional information for future discussions. 

The South Pine Acres includes 10 acres available for further development, and Breker states there are 44 serviced lots already in place with support for financing moving costs.