Co-op housing units in N.S. get $13M for repairs

·2 min read
Housing Minister John Lohr says his department wants to see more co-operative housing developed in Nova Scotia. (CBC - image credit)
Housing Minister John Lohr says his department wants to see more co-operative housing developed in Nova Scotia. (CBC - image credit)

The federal and Nova Scotia governments are splitting the tab on $13 million in renovations for co-op housing units around the province.

The work at 183 units in Halifax, Dartmouth, Lower Sackville, Sydney and Wolfville will help preserve the units as affordable for the foreseeable future, said Tim Ross of the Co-Operative Housing Federation of Canada.

"Given the size and the intensity of the housing crisis, it has never been as important as it is now to build capacity in the community housing sector," he told reporters during a news conference in Halifax.

"It's not an investment that just lasts a few years, it's an investment that lasts for lifetimes and forever because our mission never ends: to build strong and safe communities for everyone."

Important to maintain and sustain

Of the money announced Monday, $5 million will go toward incorporating 38 units in two small housing co-operatives in Sydney and Halifax with Compass Nova Scotia Co-Operative Housing Ltd.

Nikki Jamieson, a co-op resident and Compass board member, said those 38 units were at risk of being lost as affordable housing. By joining Compass they become part of a larger group that's proved itself successful, she told reporters. Rents at co-ops range from about 62-81 per cent lower than the given market rate of the area where they're located, said Jamieson.

"As we all know, maintaining and sustaining is just as important as investing in new [stock]," said Jamieson.

The other $8 million will go toward 10-year forgivable loans to be used by four co-ops and a non-profit housing society to do capital repairs to buildings, including upgrades to electrical systems and fire safety equipment.

Province wants more co-ops

Nova Scotia Housing Minister John Lohr said the co-op sector in Nova Scotia is "relatively weak" compared to other parts of the country.

Lohr said the province needs the sector to grow and his department is prepared to help make that happen. Earlier this year, Lohr's department announced a $2.5-million sector development fund for community housing projects.

"We need people to have the vision that this is possible and want to work together to make it happen," he told reporters.

The minister conceded it will take much more money to help build new units, but Lohr said his department is prepared to work with groups looking to develop new co-operatives.

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