Antigonish Affordable Housing Society

In September 2011, the Antigonish Women’s Resource Centre received funding from the Rural Communities Foundation of Nova Scotia to implement the Antigonish Affordable Housing Project.  The grant was renewed for a second year, so we are now able to implement the five-year strategy that was developed in the initial year (2011/12).

The need for affordable housing was clearly identified in 2010/11 by members of the Antigonish Poverty Reduction Coalition, and by participants in the Coalition’s focus groups. Women’s Centre staff and board have been aware of the need since the 1980s, and we’ve been searching ever since for effective solutions.  Although capital grants exist to construct affordable housing, there is little financial support for the pre-construction development process, which adds complications to what is already a difficult task for community groups.

About a dozen area residents who are concerned about housing poverty have formed a group, and are now formally registered with the Nova Scotia Registry of Joints Stocks as the Affordable Housing Society.  Now it’s time for action!

AAHS members spent the summer of 2012 examining potential models for affordable housing that would fit in our context, and looking for suitable building sites. The plan is to either convert an existing building from commercial or industrial use to residential use, or to build a new complex on a vacant building lot.  It has to be determined yet whether AAHS would own, or simply manage the building(s).

The objective of this project in its first year was to create a five-year plan to address housing need (available here).  The plan includes ideas about creating one or more social enterprises that will cultivate the community’s capacity to develop more affordable housing far into the future.  Additional funding for capital costs will come from a variety of sources, including corporate and individual donors, and foundations.  In-kind contributions such as services, materials, and real estate will also be sought.  In particular, AAHS would gratefully welcome a contribution of land on which new buildings could be constructed, or land with existing non-residential buildings that could be converted into housing.  Any type of contribution would be greatly appreciated!

The AAHS plan is to become self-sustaining.  To this end, we plan to develop one or more social enterprises that will create employment and generate revenues to be used in creating more affordable housing.  The main business activity will most likely be providing services and/or products that fit naturally with operating rental housing.

Keeping all the options in view is the attitude of AAHS leadership. A number of possible models of affordable housing provision are under consideration.

For more information on this project please email info@awrcsasa.ca or phone 902 -863-6221

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