Tawaak Housing Association gets $3.7M in funding to repair ailing units, supplement rent

Glooscap First Nation Chief Sidney Peters speaks at a funding announcement for the Tawaak Housing Association in Halifax on March 2, 2020. Elizabeth McSheffrey / Global News

Just two months after tenants complained about deplorable living conditions, the Tawaak Housing Assocation has signed a new funding agreement that will help renovate and repair its ailing units.

On Monday, the provincial government announced a $3.7-million investment that will bring 36 urban native housing units up to snuff, maintain affordable housing programs and provide rental rate supplements to 51 individuals.

“At the end of the day, the long-term sustainability is what is truly important here,” said Glooscap First Nation Chief Sidney Peters, who chairs the Tawaak Housing Association.

“When you continue to provide housing to low-income individuals it’s really difficult to get that extra dollars, what it costs to really operate… to really maintain these properties.

“As a result, eventually, it will catch up to you.”

READ MORE: Tenants fed up with lack of repair to First Nations N.S. housing units

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The mix of federal and provincial dollars under the National Housing Strategy comes after reports of deplorable living conditions — including black mould, contaminated water and unsafe windows — in some of Tawaak Housing’s units earlier this year.

The non-profit owns and operates off-reserve rental housing for Indigenous people throughout the province. It is currently conducting building condition assessments to determine how it will prioritize the new funds, which will be spent on everything from roof replacements to new siding.

“We’re ready to go. We’re looking at a plan on how we’re going to do this,” Peters told reporters at the legislature on Monday.

“We have people who are in some of these units. We have to prioritize them to see who is in the most need.”

Click to play video: 'Tenants say low-cost housing for First Nations needs urgent fixes' Tenants say low-cost housing for First Nations needs urgent fixes
Tenants say low-cost housing for First Nations needs urgent fixes – Jan 8, 2020
Peters explained that a lack of mortgage subsidies has contributed to the decrepit state of some of the organization’s 150-odd units said the organization is “fall[ing] behind” on repairs. But Tawaak will take another look at its governance model, he added, to ensure housing conditions don’t return to their current state.
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Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister Chuck Porter said his department will lend any expertise required to repair, renovate and maintain the units.

“We want to be part of this; we want to ensure the housing is at a standard that is a good standard,” he said.

READ MORE: Nova Scotia affordable housing officials say there’s not enough action in 3-year action plan

In its recently-released provincial budget, the government allocated $18.7 million for home repairs, urban Indigenous housing, rental supplements and other affordable housing initiatives.

Urban Indigenous housing in Nova Scotia will receive a total of $7.3 million in funding over a three-year action plan in Canada’s National Housing Strategy, helping to repair at least 71 units across the province.

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