Nova Scotia's housing strategy to focus on renos, repairs in short term
'This strategy is actually prudent,' says affordable housing advocate
The Nova Scotia government will be focusing on renovating and repairing low-income units, rather than building new homes in the first phase of a 10-year housing strategy.
According to Housing Nova Scotia's 2019-2022 action plan, spending over the next three years on the 11,615 rent-assisted social housing units currently in the province, including provincially-owned buildings, co-operatives and units owned and operated by non-profit agencies, will include:
- $61.7 million for repair work or remodelling.
- $12.5 million for new construction.
- $9.5 million in affordability assistance.
Under a 2019 agreement, Nova Scotia and Ottawa have committed to spend a total of $394.2 million over a decade on providing affordable housing to individuals or families that need help keeping a roof over their heads.
Most of the $88 million being spent over the first three years is cost-shared with the federal government, but the province is also kicking in an additional $70 million outside its agreement with Ottawa.
The province estimated the money it and the federal government plan to spend will help 5,500 households.
The province estimated 49,000 Nova Scotia households are in need of help to keep a roof over their heads. Roughly 4,500 of those are on the provincial wait list for public housing.
Spending priorities could shift, says minister
Chuck Porter, the minister of municipal affairs and housing, defended the decision to spend most of the money on repairs rather than new units, and suggested the money could be shifted.
"I'm open to looking at whatever options are presented before me and we will make good decisions around the direction we need to go, and if that changes a little bit, that's OK," he said.
As far as only being able to help a fraction of those people who need assistance, Porter said the province is doing its best to help as many people as possible given the province's ability to pay.
"It could be great if we could absolutely [help] 100 per cent [of people], but we have a goal and we'll strive toward that and we'll do our very best," he said.
'The absolute best news,' says affordable housing advocate
The Affordable Housing Association of Nova Scotia is happy to see the money coming from the province and Ottawa.
"That's the absolute best news," said Claudia Jahn, the non-profit organization's director of development.
"The existing non-profit housing stock and social housing stock is really irreplaceable. It's in poor condition.
"This strategy is actually prudent because the existing housing stock... we really have to upgrade that stock because it's getting lost due to repair needs."