Nova Scotia

$203K for affordable housing brings Halifax's 'Habitat Way' closer to construction

Habitat for Humanity Nova Scotia hopes to build 70 more units at Drysdale and River roads in the Spryfield area of Halifax, which has become known as Habitat Way.

Habitat for Humanity Nova Scotia plans to build dozens of units in Spryfield over next decade

Some of the Habitat for Humanity Nova Scotia homes will be built in this area of Spryfield. (David Laughlin/CBC)

Habitat for Humanity Nova Scotia has been given a $203,500 grant to help make a neighbourhood of 77 affordable housing units in Halifax a reality.

Donna Williamson, executive director of the non-profit organization, said the funding from the provincial government will go toward hiring a project manager who will create a business plan for the development.

"We are hoping that we will be able to break ground on the development by the end of 2022," Williamson said Monday. 

The funding will also let the organization hire a consultant who will develop the fundraising campaign to benefit the project.

The plan is to build 70 units at Drysdale and River roads in the Spryfield area of Halifax, where seven Habitat for Humanity units already exist. Although the section of Drysdale Road isn't officially changing its name, the organization has been calling the area Habitat Way.

This map shows where the 70 homes will be built over the next decade. (David Laughlin/CBC)

Williamson said 30 of the 70 new units will be townhouses.

"They'll be part of our affordable home-ownership program. That is the traditional model that Habitat for Humanity offers," she said.

"Our plan once those 30 homes are in place is to start the next phase, which we're hoping will see other models than home ownership, but we're still in the process of having those approved." 

Williamson said the houses will be for families with steady employment who cannot get a traditional mortgage. The family must include one child under the age of 18. 

'We do not give away homes'

The families will not have to pay a down payment, nor interest on the loan, and payments will be capped at 30 per cent of household income. The families will do 500 hours of volunteer work, too. 

"The one message we want to get out there is we do not give away homes. These homes go to working families that have an income, typically between $30,000 and $65,000, because the mortgage payment is based on your income," she said. 

"That's one of the main barriers that we're seeing is that families who are already living paycheque to paycheque or have a lower income, it's really challenging for them to save that five, 10, sometimes 20 per cent down payment for a home. This really removes that barrier for them."

It's hoped the first five townhouses will be built by the end of 2023. The remainder of the project should be done within a decade. 

When it's done, Habitat Way will be the biggest affordable housing project in Canada, said Habitat for Humanity Nova Scotia.

John Lohr, the province's housing minister, said home ownership can be "life-changing for families."

"When you own a home, you have options, and that is a powerful thing," Lohr said in a news release. "Home ownership can give families the strength and stability they need to build happier and healthier lives."

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