Who is the Housing Trust of Nova Scotia?
The Housing Trust of Nova Scotia was founded in 2009 to address the increasing challenges facing low to moderate-income households in finding affordable housing in many HRM neighbourhoods, especially ones near established and emerging business centres in walkable communities.
Our original intent was to build and manage affordable multifamily rental buildings utilizing a “mixed-income” model and targeting a 50/50 mix of affordable and market-rate units. In 2021, the Housing Trust pivoted to an acquisition strategy to accelerate its impact and maximize the number of units it stewards for the community.
Since its founding, its board members have been leaders in the private real estate sector, with expertise in real estate finance, law, development, architecture, and property management. This depth and breadth of experience and knowledge are an advantage in building a strong non-profit housing provider. Over time, the board added expertise in environmental sustainability. It’s now actively engaged in succession planning to represent the community better and respond to emerging opportunities while maintaining its focus on skills and expertise.
Meet our Board
Director and President
President, HRM Apartments
Ross Cantwell brings over 30 years’ experience as a real estate advisor, developer, and property manager to the Housing Trust. That experience includes the role that sparked his interest in affordable housing—working as a project manager for a San Francisco-based non-profit housing developer.
In 2004, now living in Nova Scotia, Cantwell co-authored the affordable housing report that the Halifax Regional Municipality used as the basis of its regional plan. That report identified what became the genesis of the Housing Trust: the idea that a local non-profit housing group could build and manage a portfolio of affordable apartment units.
Five years later, Cantwell helped establish the Housing Trust of Nova Scotia and has been President ever since.
Cantwell is a former certified public accountant with a master’s degree in real estate from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Founding partner, Kassner/Goodspeed Architects
In his four decades’ experience as an architect, Dan Goodspeed has designed and overseen projects ranging from high-rise residential projects to single-family homes.
Goodspeed’s firm has received numerous awards and citations for their work in Atlantic Canada, repeatedly demonstrating their ability to develop strong design solutions that integrate green principles.
Like Cantwell, Goodspeed has also helped shape HRM’s policy landscape by contributing to bylaw design in the municipality.
Goodspeed has represented his profession on many committees, including the Halifax Heritage Advisory Committee, and has been active with Dalhousie Architecture and Planning.
Director and Treasurer
Portfolio Manager, Infrastructure at Nova Scotia Pension Services Corporation
As treasurer, Isaac Hashem uses his 35 years’ experience as a chartered professional accountant to ensure the Housing Trust is financially stable and flexible today and in the future.
His background includes a wide variety of industries, ranging from embedded systems and consumer packaged goods to technology and healthcare. Along with experience in commercial real estate, he was also the previous vice-president and chief financial officer at Southwest Properties Ltd, one of Halifax’s premier owners/operators of multifamily real estate.
President, Lara Ryan Consulting
Lara Ryan works to promote climate action through stakeholder engagement, by supporting policy development and by creating and implementing environmental, social and governance strategies. In short, she’s working to green building practices in Nova Scotia.
Ryan’s background is in the not-for-profit sector. Most recently, she served for 12 years as regional director Atlantic for the Canada Green Building Council and is a member of the board of the Nova Scotia Nature Trust, as well as the Housing Trust.
President & CEO Dexel Development, co-found Paramount Management
Louie Lawen has 25 years’ experience developing, designing, constructing, and managing some of Halifax’s signature buildings. His work, which focuses on urban multi-unit mixed-use projects, has been recognized with many awards, including the multi-unit development of the year award from the Investment Property Owners Association of Nova Scotia.
A committed community volunteer, Lawen is an active member of Saint Antonios Orthodox Church and has served on several boards, including the Young Presidents’ Organization.
Lawen believes that good planning and design are pillars of a healthy society, which is why he founded the George Lawen / Dexel Scholarship to provide an award to a student entering the final year of the Master of Planning program who intends to pursue a career in the Maritimes.
Director and Secretary
Partner, Stewart McKelvey
As a commercial lawyer with extensive experience in real estate, Brian Tabor expertly navigates increasingly complex acquisitions and financing arrangements. He has been included in the Real Estate Law’s Best Lawyers Listing every year since 2008 and the Lexpert® rating: Property Development each year since 2010.
Senior vice-president, CBRE
Glenn Umlah uses his 30 years of financial experience to arrange large loan financing for real estate owners and developers on new and existing multi-residential land development, commercial, and industrial properties.
Before joining CBRE, after several years in senior positions with many nationally focused lenders, Umlah formed Equity Mortgage Corporation Limited, a commercial mortgage brokerage firm operating throughout Atlantic Canada between 1990 and 2017.
Umlah is a regular panellist for the debt session at the Atlantic Real Estate Forum and is well known across the Canadian capital markets.
Housing finance professional
As a former vice-president, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, Audrey Moritz’s work focused on housing finance, market research and analytics, sustainability, social inclusion and diversity. Her experiences include leading national teams, talent management, policy and program development, intergovernmental relations, program operations and delivery.
Moritz brings a breadth of experience working with housing providers across the housing continuum, from private developers to cooperative and non-profit housing providers in Canada and is pleased to now contribute directly to the Housing Trust.
Advisors to the Board
Partner, Stewart McKelvey
Vice president, CBRE
Angela Bishop, ICD.D
Angela joined the Housing Trust with 20 years of leadership experience in the non-profit sector. She has worked in diverse roles always with the goal of creating vital and vibrant communities. Angela worked to advance solutions to the affordable and homeless crisis twenty years ago and joining the Housing Trust as it first Executive Director is like coming home.
Angela is excited to be working with dedicated volunteer Board who are leveraging their exceptional expertise and experience in building a legacy for the HRM community of safe, quality, and affordable homes.