N.B., feds announce $1.6M to accelerate rental housing development in rural areas

Alex LeBlanc, who is currently the president and CEO of the New Brunswick Business Council, is also serving as the interim president of Housing Hub New Brunswick Inc. (Pierre Fournier/CBC - image credit)
Alex LeBlanc, who is currently the president and CEO of the New Brunswick Business Council, is also serving as the interim president of Housing Hub New Brunswick Inc. (Pierre Fournier/CBC - image credit)
Pierre Fournier/CBC
Pierre Fournier/CBC

The federal and provincial governments are funding an organization focused on finding more rural housing.

Each level of government is pledging $800,000 for a total of $1.6 million toward a non-profit organization that will be called Housing Hub of New Brunswick Inc.

The organization will have four employees who will look for funding, connect with developers and work with all levels of governments and private businesses to increase the number of available rental units.

At an announcement event Monday morning, Ginette Petitpas Taylor, the minister responsible for the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, said the New Brunswick vacancy rate last year fell from 3.1 per cent to 1.7 per cent.

"In our rural regions, the lack of adequate housing is preventing companies from retaining and attracting the skilled workers that they need to grow," she said.

Jill Green, minister of Service New Brunswick and minister responsible for housing, said housing affordability is a challenge in every part of New Brunswick, and those challenges are further complicated in rural areas.

"The housing hub in New Brunswick will provide a much needed coordinated approach to developing rental housing in rural communities," she said Monday.

"This is a market that we are not currently addressing."

The interim president of the new organization is Alex LeBlanc, who is currently the president and chief executive officer of the New Brunswick Business Council.

At the announcement, LeBlanc said a lack of rural housing is a "serious competitiveness issue."

"Existing housing shortages, decreases in rural housing, immigration and retiring population are all combining to create a heavier impact on rural communities," he said.