N.S. to build rent-geared-to-income tiny home community in Halifax area

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Opposition parties urge N.S. government to address housing crisis
After three decades without new builds, Nova Scotia is set to put shovels into the ground for new public housing. 222 new units will be built in six different locations throughout the province, with an expected move-in date in 2025. As Zack Power reports, some say the newly announced units still won't cover the pressing need for housing in the region. – Oct 11, 2023

The Nova Scotia government says a tiny home community is coming to Halifax Regional Municipality — the first of its kind in the province — to help house those experiencing homelessness.

In a release, the province said 52 units will be built on surplus land owned by the municipality on Cobequid Road in Lower Sackville, which will provide housing for about 62 people.

Ten of the units will be double occupancy, and the site will also include a community building “to provide office and programming space for service providers and residents.”

“Rent will be geared to income, which means that rent will be no more than 30 per cent of a person’s income,” the release said.

“Community residents will be selected from the HRM By Name List and will receive the wraparound support they need to help them connect to employment and more permanent housing.”

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The pilot project is a collaboration between the province, HRM, and the Shaw Group and Dexter Construction, the province says.

Dexter will undertake site services and land preparation work, while the units themselves will be constructed by Prestige Homes, part of the Shaw Group of companies.

A rendering of the tiny home community planned for people experiencing homelessness in the Lower Sackville area. Contributed

The community is expected to be completed in the fall, though 30 units should be ready by spring, with people moving in next summer.

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“If successful, similar communities may be created in other areas of HRM and across the province,” the release said.

The province is investing $9.4 million in construction as well as $935,000 per year in annual operating costs. The municipality, which is providing the land at no cost, will provide custodial support like snow clearing and property maintenance.

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“No one should be without a home, and this project is an incredible example of collaboration as we continue to work together to come up with bold and unique solutions to address the housing crisis,” Housing Minister John Lohr said in the release.

“Our focus is ensuring as many people as possible have a safe and affordable place to call home, and this community will ensure some of our most vulnerable are given that opportunity.”

A not-for-profit entity will be established to own and oversee the community, operated by a board of management that will include representatives from the province, the municipality, the private sector and a not-for-profit agency.

Halifax Mayor Mike Savage said in the release that similar projects have worked in other jurisdictions, “so we are pleased to see the investment by the Province married with private sector building expertise, and a municipal site.

“Working together, we will help more people move to better circumstances,” he said.

More funding for shelters this winter

The province also announced Wednesday that it will provide more funding to create new winter shelters. Another news release said the province will invest $7.5 million to purchase 200 units from the rapid-response shelter provider Pallet, as well as new bed frames, mattresses, and additional supports.

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The release described Pallet as “a North American leader in rapid-response shelter villages designed by people with lived experience.

“These communities will include single occupancy rooms, plus bathroom and laundry units and on-site supports by local service providers,” it said.

One hundred of the shelters will be in Halifax, and service providers and municipalities will be consulted on where the shelters will be placed.

“We know that people experiencing homelessness deserve a dignified place to shelter in the colder months,” said Trevor Boudreau, Minister of Community Services, in the release.

“We’re providing funding for emergency supports across the province to ensure that people have warm places to stay.”

The following was also announced:

  • $1.8 million for an additional three overnight shelters in Amherst, Bridgewater, and HRM;
  • Increasing diversion and eviction prevention support funding to $570,000 across 11 organizations, including eight in rural Nova Scotia and three in HRM, “to ensure service providers have more options for Nova Scotians in need”;
  • $250,000 to support the co-ordination of emergency weather responses across the province for people experiencing homelessness;
  • $180,000 to support a designated campground for RV and trailer hookup in HRM.

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