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Nova Scotia announces $22 million to help build affordable units in Halifax area

The rents for the affordable units will be finalized just before construction begins
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Nova Scotia Housing Minister John Lohr fields a question as the premier delivered a housing plan in Halifax on Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2021. Nova Scotia’s housing minister has announced $21.8 million to help create 373 new affordable housing units in the Halifax area. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan

HALIFAX — A Halifax real estate developer is getting nearly $22 million from the provincial government to help create 373 new affordable housing units.

Housing Minister John Lohr announced Monday that the funding for Clayton Developments would make the units available as part of an 875-unit development in the Mount Hope area of Dartmouth.

Lohr said the $21.8 million comes in the form of a forgivable loan and is part of the $35 million announced last fall to support the building of more than 1,100 new affordable housing units.

“This project will produce more affordable housing units than all our programs have produced in the last three years combined,” Lohr told reporters.

Under the terms of the loan agreement, Lohr said the developer must offer the affordable units over the next 20 years at 20 to 40 per cent below the average market rent.

The minister said people who still need more help to rent the townhouses, fourplexes and apartments in multi-unit buildings can also apply for a rent supplement from the province.

According to Lohr’s department, current data from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation indicates rent could be as low as $605 per month for a one-bedroom apartment, or $788 a month for a two-bedroom. The average rent supplement from the province is $350 a month.

The rents for the affordable units will be finalized just before construction begins. Lohr said construction is expected to begin this fall, with the first affordable housing units to become available about a year later.

Kevin Neatt, vice-president of planning and development for Clayton Developments, welcomed the assistance from the province.

“We think the private sector needs to come to the table to help adjust affordable housing, and this is the first step of hopefully many steps to help address this problem,” Neatt said.

He said construction of the Mount Hope development would occur in phases, with a portion of affordable units built as part of each phase.

The Mount Hope development was one of nine areas across the Halifax region that was given a special planning designation by Lohr on Friday. The purpose of the designation is to accelerate the development of as many as 22,600 new residential units.

Lohr has said the move is essential because of a severe housing shortage in greater Halifax.

Also Monday, the minister announced $916,000 in grants for community housing organizations across the province to assist them with their work.

The money is part of a program funded by the provincial and federal governments under Ottawa’s National Housing Strategy. Officials said the grants would fund governance and operations reviews, growth and development plans and would help create community land trusts.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 28, 2022.

Keith Doucette, The Canadian Press

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