New Brunswick’s social development minister Bruce Fitch announced the province will match municipal funding for an affordable housing project in Moncton, essentially saving the project.
The provincial government is giving $6 million to the Rising Tides Project, which is looking to provide 125 affordable units over three years, beginning with the chronically homeless.
One of the group’s founders says they hope to begin making offers on properties in January.
“We’re looking at properties now,” said Dale Hicks.
“We’ve had a list now for a year. It’s an evolving list that’s probably changed from what it originally was because every time you turn around, with the hot market we’re in, you look at a property and tomorrow it’s off the list because it’s sold now.”
Hicks said the group must decide what sort of properties it will begin acquiring: derelict homes that must be restored, move-in ready, or vacant land where modular homes can be built.
Of the $12 million promised to the project over the next three years, Hicks says $8 million will go towards properties, while the remainder will go towards staff and property maintenance.
Rising Tide is looking to hire case workers, beginning with a case worker manager who will oversee the other seven to eight case workers.
Hicks says the goal is to get 25 people housed this year, but that could change should they receive federal funding from the Rapid Housing Initiative.
“We were looking at 25 units or people being housed in year one in the original plan, but if we get that funding in place that could jump from 25 to probably 75 in the first year,” he said.
While the funding allows the project to move forward in the short term, questions remain about the future of the project, as municipal and provincial funding runs out.
Moncton mayor Dawn Arnold says the city has not changed its stance on re-upping the municipal commitment in three years’ time.
“The city of Moncton has made it very clear that we’re in for the three years and then it is up to the province to find the sustainable model to keep this going,” Arnold said.
Fitch would also not commit the province to future funding for the project.
“The sustainability part of it will continue to be worked on,” Fitch said.
“It’s an issue that I know will be ongoing so we’re going to work with the city, the private sector, NGOs and hopefully the feds will be onboard.”
Fitch speculated that the project could be used as a model for other jurisdictions, but also told reporters that the funding commitment is unique to Moncton and will not be rolled out across the province.