Saskatoon city council has voted in favour of a $3-million investment in an equity building program over the next five years.

The program will lend an average of $12,000 dollars to moderate-income households looking to buy their first home.

"They make enough money that they don't qualify for any affordable housing programs, but they don't make enough money that they can save for the down payment (on a home)," said Coun. Pat Lorje.

Over the course of the five years, up to 250 applicants could receive the loan.

"These are interest-bearing loans, so they will need to be repaid with interest," said Paul Gauthier of Saskatoon Community Services.

"This way, we will earn the same rate of return as we are now and we will give those people the opportunity to move from rental to home ownership."

The city says the program is the missing link in ensuring all segments of society have access to affordable housing.