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Affordable housing advocates, students point to gaps in Nova Scotia housing plan

HALIFAX — Advocates for low-income renters and students in Nova Scotia are pointing out gaps in the province’s recently released plan to cope with a predicted shortfall of 41,200 residential units by 2028.

Hannah Wood, the chair of the Halifax Peninsula chapter of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, says the province’s decision not to commit to additional publicly owned homes is an “extremely weak” element in the plan.

The province has previously said it will work with Ottawa to build 222 publicly owned and operated units over five years, but the advocacy group notes there’s a wait-list of more than 4,900 households, and there’s little in the plan to ensure private developers include affordable units in their proposals.

Wood also points to elements of the plan that are unlikely to bring results, such as the government’s statement it will “encourage” tenants with disabilities to team up with their landlords to apply for funding to make their apartments accessible.

She says unless the government forces landlords to take these steps, it’s highly unlikely they would voluntarily spend time and money applying for the funding. 

Georgia Saleski, the director of Students Nova Scotia, says she’s glad the province’s plan identifies a need for a separate student housing strategy, but she would like to see a commitment on when that document will be delivered.

She says the province’s housing needs assessment — which came out at the same time as the plan — showed that the student housing situation is dire, with about nine per cent of student respondents to a public survey saying they’re “unhoused.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 25, 2023.

The Canadian Press