Moncton housing entity Rising Tide to receive initial funding to buy property soon

Click to play video: 'Moncton non-profit close to securing 125 affordable housing units'
Moncton non-profit close to securing 125 affordable housing units
WATCH: A new non-profit hoping to offer 125 affordable housing units in Moncton is one step closer to buying properties. After previously agreeing to support the "rising tide community initiatives" group, the city is signing its cheque. Callum Smith has the story – Feb 3, 2021

A non-profit group hoping to offer 125 affordable housing units in Moncton withing the next three years is one step closer to buying its first property.

After previously agreeing to support the Rising Tide Community Initiatives group, the city is signing its first cheque. Councillors agreed to release the first installment of municipal funding at a city council meeting Monday.

Dale Hicks, a co-founder and board member of Rising Tide, says he expects to receive $2 million in funding from the city within the “next week or so.”

On Nov. 2, 2020, city councillors decided to support the project to the tune of $6-million over three years with some conditions.

“We’re looking at a couple properties right now, now that we know the money is going to be transferred here shortly,” he says. “We will probably go out and buy a property or two just to get started.

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“We were only going to purchase maybe three to four properties in year one and maybe try to house 25 people.”

But Hicks says if a federal funding request is approved, “it gives us a totally different focus” because that money would have to be spent within 12 months.

He says they’re hoping to have an answer to their federal request before the end of March. Rising Tide submitted a $6-million funding application through the Rapid Housing Initiative.

“We’re actually in a bit of a holding pattern,” Hicks says. “That will kind of determine which direction or which road we’re going down over the next little while.”

Rising Tide plans to buy and fix up properties when need be, to obtain its housing stock.

When asked what type of properties are being considered, Hicks says “we’re looking at some properties that could house 6-8 people.” Land zoning has been a challenge when dealing with multi-unit buildings.

The properties the group is seeking “may require a little bit of upgrade in terms of TLC, nothing serious, but maybe putting a wall up here and putting a door there, and putting a bathroom here,” Hicks says.

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Wraparound services for tenants or clients, such as addictions and mental health supports, are also supposed to be included.

In financially supporting the plan, the City of Moncton tied several conditions to its funding, including matching, or equal, provincial money, and a plan for the long-term sustainability.

In late December, the provincial government announced it would also support the plan to the tune of $6-million over three years. But there is still no agreement in place for the long-term sustainability.

Hicks previously told city councillors the municipality would not be on the hook for funding beyond its three-year commitment.

Still, Moncton Mayor Dawn Arnold says council “understands the risks” so it’s not an easy decision to release the money now. She says quarterly updates from Rising Tide will help ensure accountability with taxypayer money.

“It’s that balance,” she says. “We would like (Rising Tide) to go forward, and as we know, housing costs are rising all the time in our community, so we’d like them also to be able to start purchasing some land.”

Hicks says job descriptions are being created, by-laws are being examined, and the group is applying to become a registered charity.

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“There’s a bunch of balls that are up in the air that are going to take some time to land,” he says. “But they’re there, and we’re confident when some of these balls drop, we’ll have sustainability of the program going forward.”

“We’ve told council we’ll come back and report on that, but if they’re waiting for all those answers, we could be well into the spring before we get some of those questions answered, so we wanted to get started now.”

Despite remaining uncertainties, Hicks says he wouldn’t be part of a volunteer board if he wasn’t confident with the project’s long-term sustainability.

The group isn’t confident it will receive the full amount due to “all the applications that are out  there,” but Hicks says “something around half of that ($6-million) would be nice.”

Click to play video: 'New Brunswick to give $6M in affordable housing project'
New Brunswick to give $6M in affordable housing project

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