Province to spend $6M on Rising Tide affordable housing plan in Moncton

·3 min read

The New Brunswick government will spent $6 million over three years on a non-profit organization's plan to open 125 affordable housing units with support services in Moncton.

Social Development Minister Bruce Fitch announced the province would back Rising Tide Community Initiative during a news conference Monday in Moncton.

"Now the work begins," Fitch said.

Rising Tide sought $12 million, half from the province, half from the City of Moncton, to buy about 20 properties, renovate them and open them as affordable housing. It is also considering buying vacant property that could be used to build new structures.

It plans to hire up to seven case managers who will help the people in those units with support services.

Dale Hicks, a co-founder of Rising Tide, called for patience as the group gets started with housing people. While funding is now in place, it "doesn't mean that it'll be solved right away."

Shane Magee/CBC
Shane Magee/CBC

He offered no concrete timeline for when the first properties would be purchased or people moved in, suggesting if offers are placed next month it could be several months before units are occupied.

About 160 people are considered chronically homeless in Moncton.

The municipality has been under pressure to do more about homelessness and housing in recent years. However, the city had largely resisted doing more as affordable housing falls within provincial jurisdiction.

"So will everyone in our community be housed tomorrow? No, they definitely won't," Mayor Dawn Arnold said.

"Today, however, marks an important step to create housing opportunities for the most vulnerable people and bring real lasting solutions."

Shane Magee/CBC
Shane Magee/CBC

Moncton council voted last month to spend $6 million on Rising Tide contingent on the province matching the funding. It also asked Hicks to return with an indication that the province will support Rising Tide over the long-term, so the city won't be required to spend more after the initial three-years of funding.

However, that agreement had yet to be reached.

Hicks was waiting for a letter or email from the province that would put that commitment in writing and said it could arrive Monday afternoon.

Fitch told reporters the long-term funding is an issue that's still being examined.

"We continue to look at various ways that that can be addressed," Fitch said, suggesting the federal government may be one avenue.

Rising Tide is also planning to create a trust fund with donations from people and businesses that would fund its ongoing operations.

Fitch said the money for Rising Tide will come from the departments of Health and Social Development as well as the Regional Development Corporation. He said it was redirected from existing budgets through "efficiencies or some funds that haven't been totally spent."

Rising Tide expects to charge about $300 per month for the units it operates, which would include heat, power, and support services on-site.

John Wishart, CEO of the Greater Moncton Chamber of Commerce, said the group representing businesses in the region supports Rising Tide and is pleased both the city and province have provided funding.

He said the business community supports the plan because of the impact homelessness can have on businesses.

"Downtown businesses in particular were citing things like vandalism, panhandling, you know, evidence of drug addiction around and even inside their premises, Wishart said.

"So these are things that impacted their ability to conduct business, especially during COIVD times when it was tough already."