An Inverness, N.S., community group is proposing to create a co-operative to build affordable housing for young people and seniors.

The Cape Breton county has seen a rapid population drop in recent years. Statistics Canada figures show the area from Inverness to north of Cheticamp lost 9.9 per cent of its population between 2006 and 2011.

Some members say the Cabot Links Golf Course has driven housing prices up, making it harder for ordinary people to buy property. Seniors and youth often find it especially challenging.

The Shean Housing Co-op wants to gather community-minded locals to create a non-profit housing co-op. A community investment fund would pay for construction and people could rent-to-own the properties.

Protected from open market

Jim Mustard, an Inverness councillor and a member of the co-op, said it could take "innovative" approaches to solving the housing problem.

"Holding the land in a community trust, so it wouldn't be put on the open market. Build the homes so they're really high quality, built with the people who are interested in them and specifically looking at long-term affordability," he said.

Martin MacKinnon helped start the Shean Co-op. He said they have already had a lot of support, including professionals who could help with the project.

"I know a couple of local tradesmen who said they would be interested to help give some accurate estimates on what the housing would cost. The architect has some beautiful designs drawn up," he said.

The Shean Housing Co-op is holding its first public meeting Tuesday in Inverness. It will be a two-hour workshop about affordable housing. It also invited anyone in the building trades to stop by.