Nova Scotia

Tenants angry with co-op over 15% rent increase

Residents of a housing co-op in downtown Halifax are upset they're being asked to pay for a controversial provincially funded renovation project.

Residents say they can't afford to pay for the mistakes of others

Residents in this North End United Housing Co-op building are upset over a rent increase.

Residents of a housing co-op in downtown Halifax are upset they're being asked to pay for a controversial provincially funded renovation project.

The North End United Housing Co-op is embroiled in a fight with 11 contractors who are owed close to $1 million for renovations they completed as part of a provincial program. The housing co-op only has $200,000 to pay them.

The contractors have been waiting nearly two years to get paid, following a renovation project to fix up the co-op that ran millions of dollars over budget.

While the two sides negotiate, residents say they're facing a rent hike. Since the co-op is in debt, some members have voted to increase the rent by an average of 15 per cent.

Lucille Baptiste received a new door and windows for her apartment during the renovations, but isn't happy those costs are being passed on to her.

"I think it's utterly disgusting the percentage that they are asking, from where we are now. At any other time it was a 2 percent increase but now it's going from 2 percent to 15 percent and I don't think it's fair," she said.

Down the hall, Bob Downey says he's worried about the the price hike.

"I don't think I'll be forced out , but you know the cost of living today it will hurt I think," he said.

Auditors have looked at the finances of the co-op in light of the dispute with contractors but some neighbours, like Brian Gerrard, want the province to delve deeper.

"I think we would require a forensic audit. We're asking for somebody to please go more in-depth into the invoices, into the relationships of contractors, into (the) relationship to you know how they were employed," he said.

The co-op and the contractors are a nickel apart in their negotiations. The contractors want 55 cents on the dollar and the co-op is offering 50 cents on the dollar.

The two sides will appear in court Monday

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