N.S. needs funding boost for low-cost housing in 'perfect storm' of shortages: report

·2 min read

HALIFAX — A commission looking into Nova Scotia's affordable housing shortage is calling on the province to swiftly invest $25 million to support 600 to 900 households in finding reasonably priced, safe accommodation.

The 61-page report prepared by the Nova Scotia Affordable Housing Commission and released today comes after a public outcry last fall over a series of evictions of low-income tenants and rising homelessness in Halifax.

The provincial Liberal government brought in temporary rent controls in November, capping annual increases at two per cent annually, and appointed a 17-person commission to propose solutions to a low-income housing shortage that it said was growing worse during the pandemic.

The commission's report says rising housing costs, high energy costs, a growing population and Nova Scotia's high poverty rate created a "perfect storm" last year that pushed the housing system to a breaking point.

It calls for the government to commit within 100 days to provide funding for quick access to affordable housing to 600 to 900 households.

The commission notes the longer-term funding need is much larger but says this initial investment would help deal with the current crisis in the province.

The report defines affordable housing as residences that are in good repair, are suitable for their occupants and cost less than 30 per cent of the occupants' income. It says about 44,100 households are falling short of this threshold.

The report also recommends creating an arm's length, independent provincial housing agency that can make quicker decisions and has its own board of directors.

It notes other provincial governments have moved housing to "an independent, business-focused operation that collaborates with both private and non-profit developers."

The document also notes that increases in longer-term funding are also needed to rebuild the province's non-profit and co-operative housing stock and to repair existing public and non-profit homes.

The commission says it drew on submissions from 36 experts and more than 2,000 Nova Scotians through an extensive public consultation process, which included a survey of 1,200 people.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 31, 2021.

The Canadian Press

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