Feds, NS provide $13 million to preserve co-op, nonprofit housing


AFFORDABLE HOUSING in Nova Scotia should be easier to come by and keep thanks to $13 million in forgivable government loans.

The money will go to nonprofit housing co-ops to continue to provide housing at rents far below the levels demanded by forprofit landlords.

Co-op successes

Co-operative housing has a long history of success in Canada. The Antigonish Movement in Nova Scotia promoted the earliest forms of housing co-ops, where neighbours came together in the 1930s to invest in each other and build houses for one another.

Across Canada today, about a quarter of a million people, in over 90,000 households, live in affordable homes in 2,200 non-profit housing co‑ops. There are housing co‑operatives in every province and territory

The struggle all co-ops face is to keep units maintained while still keeping costs low for members. In some cases this can leave co-ops no choice but to sell off some of their homes at distress prices—as happened with the New Armdale Westside housing co-op in Halifax in 2020, when it sold off half its portfolio to the private sector.

The new government money is meant to ensure that won’t happen again.

Two new builds

The loans will help preserve 145 community housing units in five different communities, said provincial Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister John Lohr.

Close to $5 million will be being spent to merge two small co-operatives, with a total of 38 units, with a larger one, Compass Nova Scotia Co-operative Housing Ltd.

Compass is sort of a co-operative for co-operatives, and a member of the Co-operative Housing Federation of Canada. It now has 111 units across Nova Scotia.

“We were at risk of losing those units, basically,” said Nikki Jamieson, a resident and board member with Compass.

“By them joining us they have an opportunity to re enter a larger co-op that’s been proven to be successful.”

Jamieson said the co-op she’s a part of merged with Compass in 2019.

“I’ve been through this process and we were able to save those units. And as we know, maintaining and sustaining is just as important as investing in new.”

Compass is also building new, including a 57-unit building on Maitland Street in Halifax.

Another $2,558,600 is going to the Dartmouth Non-Profit Housing Society for what Dartmouth-Cole Harbour MP Darren Fisher called “substantial capital repairs” to 57 units.

“That means 57 families will have a better, safer place to live,” said Tim Ross, executive director of the Co-operative Housing Federation of Canada.

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