Who We Are

The Housing Trust of Nova Scotia is a new nonprofit housing organization that was formed in 2009 to tackle the growing problem of housing affordability in Nova Scotia. The Board of Directors was selected to provide a wide range of hands on skills, necessary for the complex task of developing high quality housing. In 2010, the Housing Trust received $3 million of funding from Nova Scotia Community Services (NS Housing) and these funds were used to acquire two large parcels of land in downtown Halifax.

The Housing Trust’s goal is build new high quality mixed income housing projects that have a blend of affordable and market rate units. By combining mixed incomes in one building, the Housing Trust aims to remove the stigma associated with housing subsidy as tenants won’t know who has received a subsidy, and is able to use the profit from the market rate units to subsidize the operation on the affordable units.


  • To become one of the leading nonprofit developers of affordable housing in the Province of Nova Scotia.
  • Professional board run in a business like manner
  • Focus on Halifax Peninsula in the short term; other geographical areas at a later date
  • To be a resource for other nonprofits looking to provide affordable housing


By North American standards, affordable housing is achieved when residents pay no more 30% of their gross income for good quality shelter. Costs include rent and utilities for tenants, or mortgage payments, utilities and property taxes for owners. Although there are numerous households that would meet the needs test for affordable housing, we would like to target households that are working but are having a hard time getting ahead.

For example, a single mother working in retail with a child in day care; she is working hard everyday to provide for her family, but just needs a bit of help in getting ahead with the bills. This is one example of the type of family we would like to assist.

Board of Directors

Members of the HTNS Board of Directors were selected primarily based on the skill sets that they had to offer the organization. The board members include:

Ross Cantwell: Real Estate Consulting and Appraisal
Mr. Cantwell has 25 years of experience in the real estate industry, including property management, real estate consulting and appraisal. In addition to his consulting work, Ross has been involved in the development and/or renovation of over 250 multi-family housing units during the past decade. He is fairly knowledgeable about the affordable housing industry having worked for a nonprofit housing developer in California in the 1980’s, and he was co-author of the HRM Affordable Housing Policy, written in 2004 to support the new HRM regional plan. Mr. Cantwell is a former Certified Public Accountant and has a Master’s degree in real estate from MIT.

Dan Goodspeed, MRAIC: Architect
Dan Goodspeed has more than 30 years experience as an architect in Halifax. A principal of Kassner/Goodspeed Architects, Dan’s completed projects include: Gladstone Ridge, The Paramount on South Park Street, Garrison Watch on Sackville Street, Harbour Ridge on Brunswick St, and The Lexington at Cunard and Robie. He works with most of the major residential developers that are active on the Halifax Peninsula.

Mr. Goodspeed was retained by HRM to review the proposed by-law developed for the Halifax-by-Design Plan for downtown Halifax.

Louie Lawen, P.Eng: Real Estate Development and Property Management
During the past decade, Mr. Lawen has established himself as one of the top residential developers in Halifax. Upon graduation from the civil engineering program at Dalhousie University, Mr. Lawen entered the family apartment business. His first major project was the redevelopment of the former NSLC store on Hollis Street, which is now known as The Waterford. Other past projects include: Vic Suites, W Suites, Hillside Suites (South Street), Acadia Suites, Tower Road Apartments, among others. Current projects include 80 new apartment units above Pete’s Frootique on Spring Garden Road in Halifax.

Brian Tabor: Real Estate and Commercial Law
Mr. Tabor is a commercial lawyer with the firm of Stewart McKelvey Sterling Scales. He is listed as one of the best lawyers in Canada (Real Estate Law) in 2008-2010, and is the practice leader for the firm’s real estate property group. Brian has handled hundreds of real property matters for his clients since being admitted to the Bar in 1987.

He is past chair of the Real Property Task Force (NS Barristers Society) and past president of the Canadian Bar Association.

Glenn Umlah: Commercial Mortgage Broker
Glenn Umlah is the Principal of Montrose Mortgage (Atlantic) and has approximately 30 years experience in the mortgage financing field. Since 1984, his efforts have been concentrated on the origination, underwriting and placement of commercial mortgages throughout the Atlantic Region on all property types with emphasis on income producing property and residential project financing. Glenn has a number of regional management positions representing nationally focused Trust Companies.

Mr. Umlah is extremely familiar with financing residential apartment projects, and will arrange both construction financing, and a CMHC insured take out loan for the project.

Isaac Hashem, CA: Property Management
Mr. Hashem is a Chartered Accountant and the Vice President and Chief Financial Officer for Southwest Properties Ltd, one of Halifax’s premier residential housing landlords. Southwest currently owns and operates more than 1,250 quality apartments and condos situated in some of the best residential areas of Halifax; they are best known for the Bishops Landing project on the Halifax Waterfront.

Lara Ryan
Lara Ryan is the Regional Director – Atlantic Chapter, of the Canada Green Building Council. In this role she works with the organization’s senior management team and the local leadership board to advance the adoption of green building practices in Atlantic Canada though networking, education and advocacy.

Prior to assuming this role full time, Lara was a consultant specializing in corporate social responsibility. Creating and executing strategies on employee engagement, community investment and environmental sustainability is her particular area of expertise.

Besides a B.A from the University of King’s College and a BPR from Mount Saint Vincent University, she also holds a Certificate in Corporate Social Responsibility from the Conference Board of Canada and the University of St. Michael’s College.

Charitable Status

The Housing Trust of Nova Scotia was incorporated under the Nova Scotia Societies Act on August 19, 2009 (Registry ID 3238924); the Trust has applied for charitable status with the Canada Revenue Agency.

Other Partners

The Housing Trust has partners with the Performing Arts Lodge (PAL) Halifax to provide 20 units of affordable housing in their MET Property re-development. Working with PAL, these units will be set aside for retired artists who need help obtaining affordable housing.

About PAL Halifax

Performing Arts Lodge (PAL) Halifax is a not-for-profit society, created to provide quality affordable housing and support for seniors in the performing arts and allied professions. Modeled on the successful PAL Toronto experience, PAL Halifax will enrich the cultural life of our city by supporting the health, well-being and continued creativity of our performance pioneers. For more information please visit: www.palhalifax.org.




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