How hard is it to find an affordable place to live in Nova Scotia? Hard enough that the government formed a commission, and that commission can state its mission pretty clearly: “We know that we must do more to increase the supply of new affordable housing, protect existing housing, and ensure that every Nova Scotian has a safe and affordable place to call home.”
The Nova Scotia Affordable Housing Commission was established in November 2020, and it’s supposed to make recommendations to Geoff MacLellan, the provincial minister of infrastructure and housing, at the end of May. So over the next two weeks, it’s holding virtual public workshops for people all over the province to discuss the housing crisis. The Zoom sessions specifically for Halifax Regional Municipality are April 1, 10am-noon, and April 7, 6-8pm, “or if that timing doesn't work,” says the NSAHC site, “join a different one.” Click here for the full schedule and/or to register.
Affordable housing is an issue throughout the province, but “Halifax has been particularly affected by historically low vacancy rates,” says the commission’s workshop discussion guide, “which have priced some low-income renters out of the market.” The commission cites factors like the strong economy, high immigration rates and traditional landlords converting properties to short-term rentals (think Airbnb) for putting pressure on the housing market. The provincial average vacancy rate is 2.0 percent with Halifax being at 1.7 percent, one of the lowest in the country, and rents continue to rise.
The government brought in temporary rent control when it formed the Affordable Housing Commission; the task for the commission and the workshop series is to find longer-term fixes. “The purpose of this workshop is to validate our understanding of housing supply and challenges, fill information gaps, and identify and prioritize potential solutions,” the discussion guide reads.
But if you can’t attend any of the workshops, you can still contribute ideas and perspectives on renting in Halifax the following ways:
- Submit to the NSHAC’s online poll, which asks “What is your solution to quickly create rental housing that low-to-moderate-income Nova Scotians can afford?”
- Add a location to the commission’s online map “to indicate where you see a need for more supply of affordable housing.”
- Type a submission of “your success stories and challenges that can help inform the work of the commission.”
- Phone 1-833-743-0777 and leave a message.
- Email email@example.com with a detailed description of your ideas
- Mail a written suggestion to Nova Scotia Affordable Housing Commission c/o Stephan Richard, Maritime Centre, 14th Floor North–1505 Barrington Street, PO Box 216, Halifax, B3J 2M4