In an effort to address the housing crisis in Saint John, N.B., the city has approved a grant incentivizing the creation of affordable housing.
Following approval by Saint John city council, as of Tuesday, developers can apply for the Affordable Housing Grant Program.
For non-profit housing providers, this can mean $10,000 per affordable unit up to a maximum of $200,000. Private sector developments can receive $8,000 per affordable unit up to a maximum of $160,000.
Hamilton said developers will have criteria to determine eligibility. While the city hopes the program can show a return in the short term, staff said details of the timeline will be negotiated through the grant agreement.
“Certainly, the hope is these projects will be up and running within a year timeframe so that we are targeting very much shovel-ready projects with this program.”
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$800,000 in funding for the grant comes from the New Brunswick Regional Development Corporation. The province received that money through the federal government’s Transit Fund.
Of the funding received, the city has committed $50,000 towards innovative projects related to accessibility, energy efficiency, and addressing market gaps.
While housing has not typically been a municipal responsibility, the Mayor of Saint John said the city has prioritized the issue over the past two years.
“I think there’s an opportunity… as mayor, and council and leaders to advocate on behalf of all of our citizens, and so affordable is a big portion of housing that we require in Saint John, and so absolutely we will continue along that road,” Donna Reardon told reporters at an availability on Tuesday.
Statistics provided by the city indicate 36 per cent of all renter households live in housing that is not affordable.
According to Coun. Brent Harris, there are currently about 1,500 people in Saint John looking for housing.
“The continuum we have, and we know we’re bleeding and we’re hemorrhaging affordable units to some of these pressures in the private sector, in the market, that’s happening naturally, and so this is meant to really hem some of that and hold some of that back,” Harris said.
Developers will have until Feb. 8 to submit their applications to the grant program.