The Rising Tide affordable housing project in Moncton seems to be gaining momentum.
It has now received a $3.4 million commitment from the federal government, in addition to the $6 million each that the city and province previously pledged.
"We're quite relieved," said co-founder Dale Hicks.
The project application scored a lot of points, he said, because it had support from other levels of government, and a large number of units.
The additional funds will allow the group to create 62 housing units this year, said Hicks, instead of the originally planned 25.
Over the next three years, they'll be able to create 155 to 160 units, he said, instead of 125.
MP Ginette Petitpas Taylor announced Friday that the funding had been approved through the Rapid Housing Initiative.
Hicks said the additional funding is like icing on the cake.
Rising Tide already has already made conditional offers on two properties in different parts of the city, said Hicks.
Those offers have been accepted, and the group has 60 days to take a closer look before the deals are finalized.
"We don't want to spend $300,000 on a property and have to spend $500,000 on renovations. It wouldn't make sense."
"But we're pretty confident that those are going to work out. And we're hoping that by end of spring, early summer, we'll be starting to put people in these places."
Each building would be able to house about eight people, said Hicks.
Rising Tide is in serious conversations about two other properties, he said, which could house the remaining units to reach its target of 62 this year.
One project is a new apartment-style building on vacant land that will have 18 to 21 units.
The properties are scattered throughout the city, said Hicks.
The group is selecting properties that are already zoned accordingly for this type of housing, he said, so they don't have to go through a long rezoning process and are likely to avoid any big objections from neighbours.
But once locations are confirmed, he said, they will engage with people who live nearby to find out if they have any concerns and communicate plans to monitor and control what happens on site.
In fact, there is quite a bit of community support for the project, according to Hicks.
Local lawyers, engineers and building designers are offering pro bono services.
A building supply company is offering discounts on materials.
And Rising Tide is in talks with established non-profit groups about setting up partnerships.
Rising Tide would provide and manage the property, and cover building expenses such as upkeep, snow removal and lawn care, said Hicks.
Partner agencies would put clients in the units and manage them, with support from Rising Tide, if needed.
"That's the model we're looking at now," Hicks said.
Two groups thinking of partnering are Crossroads for Women and Youth Impact Jeunesse.
Crossroads executive director Chantal Poirier said it could be a way to boost the number of "second-stage" housing units they operate.
These are rental units that women and children move into after leaving the emergency shelter.
Right now there are only four and they need another 26 to 30, she said.
Crossroads is in talks with Rising Tide, said Poirier.
Nothing is confirmed, she said, but she described it as a "wonderful" project that was "way overdue." And she'd like to see something worked out by next fall.
Youth Impact executive director Mel Kennah said his group is considering getting involved in a couple of possible ways.
Kennah said he met with Rising Tide officials just last week.
It could be an opportunity to expand the transitional housing program Youth Impact offers in the Moncton area to a second location, said Kennah.
That might be a unique solution for transgender youth, he said. The program currently has eight beds divided into male and female units.
But more likely, he said, Rising Tide might provide rental units for the participants in those programs to "graduate" into.
He said Youth Impact would only be interested in a tiny share of the Rising Tide project - possibly just one apartment.
The non-profit's board of directors could make a decision within the next week, he said.
Rising Tide doesn't want to duplicate existing services, said Hicks.
He hopes to see renovations start within the next month.