Nova Scotia provides $ 6.4 million to developers for affordable builds

The Nova Scotia government will help fund the construction of 178 affordable housing units in parts of the Halifax Regional Municipality and Annapolis Valley.

The province announced Monday that it plans to spend $ 6.4 million on housing projects in Lantz, Kentville and Halifax. In this case, the government defines “affordable” as rent that is at least 20 percent below market value, based on CMHC rental market data.

The agreement with the province requires the units to remain affordable for 15 to 20 years, depending on the project.

The divisions are:

  • $ 2.5 million to RFL Group to build a 100-unit development in Kentville with all affordable units.
  • $ 2 million to Shaw Group to build an 85-unit Lantz development unit with 40 affordable units.
  • $ 1.9 million to Sidewalk Real Estate Development to build a 100-unit development in downtown Halifax with 38 affordable units.

Ron Lovett, CEO of RFL Group, said the Kentville project is still in the planning stages, but he expects it to consist mostly of one- and two-bedroom units with rents ranging from $ 875 to $ 1,240.

The other two developers could not be reached immediately for further details.

Advanced Education Minister Brian Wong spoke on behalf of Housing Minister John Lohr about the projects in an interview on Monday. He said the first three were chosen because of the developers’ readiness.

“We have demand throughout the province for housing and especially for affordable housing. So we really looked at what was available now. We need to have so many [housing units] out as possible, [and] these were most ready to go, “he said.

Wong said he expects construction to be completed on all three within the next 18 to 24 months.

Brian Wong, Nova Scotia’s Minister for Advanced Education. (CBC)

A fourth new development is planned for Cole Harbor, but the province is still looking for a partner to build it. According to a provincial press release, a site on Circassion Drive could fit about 15 affordable devices.

The site was selected from an inventory that the province is collecting of provincial-owned land that could be used for new housing stock.

The province announced an additional $ 703,500 for housing projects launched by the following groups:

  • $ 138,000 to Co-operative Housing Federation of Canada.
  • $ 231,000 to the Portal Youth Outreach Association.
  • $ 90,000 to the Transition House Association of Nova Scotia.
  • $ 10,500 to Upper Hammonds Plains Community Land Trust.
  • $ 150,000 to the Urban Neighborhood Development Association.
  • $ 84,000 to Shelter Nova Scotia.

Russ Sanche, executive director of the Portal Youth Outreach Association, said $ 41,000 would be used to drive collaboration between community groups and local governments across the Annapolis Valley to build more public housing.

The remaining $ 190,000 will go to ongoing renovations of three homes the association purchased this summer in Kentville, Windsor and Middleton. Those houses are being converted into transitional housing for young people.

Sanche said the houses had a soft launch in October and have already received a few residents. When all the renovations are completed, they will be able to accommodate 14 young people. He said he expects most residents to stay for one to two years.

“The demand is clear,” Sanche said in an interview.

“I could name 14 kids right now who could be there … there are easily 50-plus kids who sofa-surf or in unsafe situations across … all three counties – Kings, Annapolis and West Hants.”

‘That space may be filled tomorrow’

Sanche, who learned of the Kentville development Monday morning, said he hopes to connect with the developer to ensure tenants will be able to access any community support they may need to stay.

Sanche said he expects the 100 units will be coveted.

“Honestly, that place could be filled up tomorrow,” he said.

But he added that rents that are 20 percent below market value may still be unattainable for some. He said some people served by his organization have housing budgets of $ 300 to $ 400.

“We have seen prices rise in the valley and wages do not always match. And certainly, if you are on income assistance, it is a big journey from how much you have to your home compared to what is available,” said Sanche.

Shelter upgrades, non-market housing model also receive funding

The money for Shelter Nova Scotia will allow for upgrades to its Barry House and Metro Turning Point shelters, according to the province’s press release.

Karen Brodeur, Atlantic Regional Director of the Co-operative Housing Federation of Canada, said her organization will use the money to develop a “community-housing-land trust model.”

Brodeur said the primary purpose of such a model is to protect and maintain affordable housing. The focus will be on the non-profit and cooperative housing sector. Brodeur said she wants to see this sector grow.

“The private market has certainly done their fair share in developing affordable housing, but the community housing sector is developing affordable housing forever, and the private sector does not necessarily do that,” she said.

Brodeur said British Columbia has “significantly” more non-profit and cooperative housing than Nova Scotia. Her group will look at BC’s land trust model to help shape Nova Scotias.

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