Housing is a human right, and we cannot simply rely on the current market forces to deal with the housing crisis.
The recent events that saw police evicting people from shelters were disturbing and highlighted that government must do more to help and support those who are homeless or at risk of homelessness, including continuing with rent controls until our housing supply is stable.
Our government laid out a two-pronged strategy of bringing in rent control while making critical investments to increase supportive housing options.
In May, we invested $6.4 million in permanent supportive housing for Nova Scotia, with $3.5 million going toward the purchase of properties in the Halifax area to provide housing for people with the highest needs who might otherwise remain homeless.
We committed $1.8 million a year to cover onsite clinical care, peer support, addictions and mental health supports.
These critical investments will result in at least 100 people in the Halifax area having access to supportive housing with wrap around services by this fall.
We had more to do – and the new government must act quickly to ensure those most vulnerable have access to housing options that allow them to be treated with dignity and respect.
During the recent campaign we put forward strategies to bolster capacity.
- Committing up to $25 million to rebate the provincial portion of the HST on construction costs for new affordable housing units.
- Reviewing provincial legislation and regulations to empower municipal, non-profit, and private sector partners to tackle affordable housing.
- Creating mixed-use projects with high quality affordable units by leveraging provincial, municipal, non-profit, and private sector expertise.
- Amending legislation so municipalities can offer property or commercial tax incentives for affordable housing developments.
- Up to six month’s compensation for renters displaced from their homes due to “renoviction.”
- Consulting the Affordable Housing Association on the creation of a provincial loan fund for non-profit housing organizations.
- Expanding housing options available to include secondary suites, garage loft, tiny homes, and other non-traditional forms of housing.
These are not quick fixes; none of this will happen overnight.
And this is why rent controls to protect tenants must be used as a short-term tool.
But right now, government action is urgently needed in these circumstances. Anything else is an abdication of leadership.