Why do the Housing Trust of Nova Scotia and the community housing sector matter?
Affordable housing is a complex issue.
Affordable housing is a complex issue and not one the government, even working with the private sector, can solve alone. The community or non-profit housing sector has an important role to play alongside the private sector in meeting communities’ diverse housing needs. In other provinces, the non-profit housing sector (including cooperatives) plays a more significant role in meeting the affordable housing needs of low- and moderate-income households. The Housing Trust wants to be part of growing the community housing sector in Nova Scotia and increase the number of good quality affordable units we own.
The cost of new construction is going up.
Land prices and new construction costs are steadily increasing across the HRM and Nova Scotia, making it more difficult for the private sector to offer affordable rents for lower- and moderate-income households. In a tight rental market like the one experienced in HRM over the past years, rents tend to increase. Older buildings near established communities are often renewed, renovated, and reintroduced to the market at much higher rents. Many people need to find new homes, changing the look of what were once diverse communities.
When average rents increase dramatically, lower to moderate-income groups can be priced out of a community, and that can hurt business and the environment.
When a group of people are priced out of a community, that community often loses vital parts of its workforce. If they are pushed to the outskirts, there is an environmental impact from increasing long commutes, or bustling and growing commercial centres like Halifax and Dartmouth can find themselves without an accessible workforce to perform many jobs. That has negative impacts on local businesses.
HRM prides itself on being vibrant, diverse, and welcoming to existing and new Nova Scotians. Affordable housing is essential to creating and maintaining that spirit across our communities.
Non-profit groups are not profit-driven.
Non-profit housing providers face the same development and operational costs as the for-profit sector except in cases where government funding is designed to help non-profit housing providers specifically. For example, the HRM offers community-based housing providers relief on their annual property taxes.
Non-profit housing providers, unlike the private sector, do not have to think about making a profit. However, rents still have to cover operational costs (heat, lights, insurance, taxes, etc.) ranging from $400 a unit per month to $600 a month for newly constructed units. Like a for-profit sector housing provider, the non-profit housing provider needs to plan for and fund major capital expenditures when roofs, windows, elevators, etc., need to be replaced.
What’s left is available to pay a mortgage, support enhanced affordability, and acquire additional affordable units. The primary goal is affordability, and the focus is people and community.