New Brunswick sees little of federal housing funding

·3 min read
The John Howard Society's proposed City Motel project in Fredericton was denied federal funding.   (Gary Moore/CBC - image credit)
The John Howard Society's proposed City Motel project in Fredericton was denied federal funding. (Gary Moore/CBC - image credit)

Some housing advocates are wondering why so many housing projects in New Brunswick were denied funding from a federal program.

New Brunswick got less than half a per cent of the total funding available through the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation's rapid housing initiative.

The first half of the $1-billion funding was allocated to bigger cities. New Brunswick saw none of that. Halifax was the only city in Atlantic Canada to receive funding, with $8.7 million.

The second $500 million was allocated for housing projects across the country that could be completed within a year.

Four projects denied

Five applications were made from New Brunswick — one from Fredericton, one from Moncton, two from Saint John and one from Miramichi. Four of the five were denied.

Blair Martin, the director of Belleterre Community Partners and one of the organizers of a project in Miramichi, said he was surprised to find out the project that would have created 18 affordable housing units wouldn't get any of the $3.3 million it sought.

"I felt very confident," said Martin, who works in real estate development and affordable housing in Toronto.

"Our team did a great job pulling the application together. We had tremendous support and help from the city of Miramichi and the government in New Brunswick and people in the community and the team on the construction side that I was dealing with."

Martin is originally from Miramichi and his company partnered with the Miramichi Youth House to purchase an existing property and add the housing units to it. He said there is still work being done to push the project forward.

"We have reached out to the government of New Brunswick to take advantage of their affordable rental housing program. So we're going to fund this in a different way, hopefully. We're reaching out to private lenders who deal in lending to non-profits, building affordable housing."

The only successful applicant was in Moncton. Rising Tide got $3.4 million for its plan to build more than 150 affordable housing units in the city.

Rising Tide president Dale Hicks said he believes having the municipal and provincial governments already involved financially was key to getting the federal funding.

'Cake model'

"Our committee used to talk about the icing-on-the-cake model," Hicks said. "The cake model was input from the city and the province and if we had got federal funding, that would be icing on the cake. But we had a pretty solid business plan for the cake model. And I think that's what helped put the icing on it."

Both the city and the province committed $6 million over three years to Rising Tide before the application for CMHC funding.

CMHC said it funded a total of 231 projects across the country. It declined to be interviewed.

Martin said it was disappointing to be denied.

"But I'm encouraged that eventually we'll find a way to do this. And, you know, that's a scalable type of business. If one person does it, others could follow if the project makes sense."