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Unlocking Affordable Housing in Nova Scotia: A Guide to Funding Programs

In our quest to address the pressing need for affordable housing in Nova Scotia, we examine the funding landscape, focusing on the Affordable Housing Development Program and the Land for Housing Program, along with additional National Funding Opportunities. These initiatives are instrumental in enabling the creation of homes customized to the requirements of our communities. Let’s explore how these programs can pave the way for accessible housing solutions:

Affordable Housing Development Program: Building Homes, Building Futures

The Affordable Housing Development Program is a new initiative designed to assist individuals and organizations dedicated to addressing the gap in housing accessibility. Through forgivable loans, both private developers and community housing entities can access funding to renovate existing structures, construct new housing projects, or repurpose non-residential buildings. At its core, this program aims to integrate affordable rental units into our neighborhoods, catering to households with low to modest incomes.

Key Features to Consider:

Targeted Funding Criteria: Projects must offer rental units at least 20% below the average market rent, fostering sustainable affordability for a minimum of 15 years.

Allocation Strategies: Up to 50% of rental units in a project can benefit from funding support, fostering inclusivity in housing development.

Eligibility Blueprint: From location specifics to compliance mandates, projects must align with stringent criteria to qualify for assistance. For more information, visit: Affordable Housing Development Program

Equity Imperatives: Private developers and community housing groups must demonstrate a commitment to the cause, with minimum equity contributions of 20% and 5%, respectively.

Timeline Projections: Anticipate a review period of 6 to 8 weeks, with comprehensive assessments potentially extending the timeline.

Financial Insights: While there’s no application fee, meeting equity requirements is paramount for eligibility.

Land for Housing Program:

The Land for Housing Program offers a new solution to developers, providing access to provincially owned land to fuel affordable housing endeavors. Priority is accorded to projects that promise rents significantly below market rates, coupled with a commitment to exceptional social, economic, or environmental outcomes.

Eligible Projects: Eligible projects must primarily focus on residential developments. The Land for Housing Program welcomes diverse housing projects based on the suitability of the land site, including:

Mixed-income, mixed-use, and mixed-tenure projects. Single or multi-family dwellings. Single room occupancy, co-housing, and micro-units. Seniors’ independent living housing (excluding healthcare or long-term care facilities).

Equity Alignment: Meet equity requirements, with private developers contributing a minimum of 20% equity and community housing groups contributing a minimum of 5% equity.

Explore Available Properties: Dive into the list of available properties through the Land for Housing Program portal. With several sites available, this is an initiative worth reviewing. Visit: Property Opportunity Notices Land Housing Program

Expanding Opportunities: Additional Funding Streams for Affordable Housing

In our exploration of funding avenues for affordable housing development, we uncover three additional resources that contribute to innovation, sustainability, and inclusive housing solutions across Canada.

Affordable Housing and Innovation Fund Department – Organization: Canadian Mortgage and Housing Association This pioneering fund, managed by the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Association (CMHC), serves as a catalyst for groundbreaking ideas poised to revolutionize the affordable housing sector. The Affordable Housing Innovation Fund nurtures projects that push boundaries, embracing creativity and disruption to shape the future of housing in Canada. Specifically, the Rent-to-Own stream of this fund is tailored for housing providers embarking on the development, testing, and scaling of innovative rent-to-own models and projects.

Key Details:

  • Deadline: CMHC continuously accepts and reviews applications, with funding announcements made periodically.
  • Example Project: Examples include incremental financing models and novel building approaches, such as the creation of shipping container affordable housing units meeting net-zero specifications and the development of tiny homes for homeless veterans.
  • Website: Affordable Housing and Innovation Fund

Green Municipal Fund Department – Organization: Infrastructure Canada/Federation of Canadian Municipalities Administered by Infrastructure Canada in collaboration with the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM), the Green Municipal Fund (GMF) empowers municipalities to spearhead sustainability initiatives across five priority sectors: energy, waste, transportation, land use, and water. This fund provides substantial financial support, covering between 50 and 80 percent of eligible project costs, and offers grants to support projects in various stages, from planning and studies to pilot projects and capital initiatives.

Key Details:

  • Example(s): One notable example is the enhancement of sustainable affordable housing to improve energy efficiency and affordability.
  • Deadline: Continuous acceptance of applications.
  • Website: Green Municipal Fund

National Housing Co-Investment Funding Department – Organization: Canadian Mortgage and Housing Association Facilitated by the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Association (CMHC), the National Housing Co-Investment Funding program aims to foster the development of energy-efficient, accessible, and socially inclusive housing across Canada. This initiative targets mixed-income, mixed-tenure, and mixed-use affordable housing projects, including community housing, shelters, transitional, and supportive housing. With two distinct streams for new construction and repair and renewal, projects are required to achieve a minimum 25% decrease in energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions compared to the 2015 National Building Code.

Key Details:

Missing Pieces: Still Awaiting Announcements

As we eagerly anticipate progress in affordable housing initiatives, recent announcements hint at significant developments on the horizon. Stay tuned as we delve deeper into forthcoming projects and their impact on Nova Scotia’s housing landscape. Housing Minister Sean Fraser emphasizes the need for rapid construction, reminiscent of post-World War II urgency. As we await the pre-approved housing designs, we find it particularly interesting that an RFP from Cape Breton Municipality was released this month.

Scope of the Proposal: The Cape Breton Regional Municipality (CBRM) invites qualified and experienced consulting firms to submit proposals for the Pre-Approved Housing Design Initiative. This project aims to create streamlined housing solutions, diversify housing options, engage the community, enhance housing affordability, and contribute to urban revitalization. The full RFP can be found here: CBRM_P15-2023

Closing Thoughts: Building a Path Towards Inclusive Housing

By embracing these diverse funding opportunities, we pave the way for innovation, sustainability, and inclusivity in affordable housing development nationwide. Transparency is a key component of these funding opportunities, and we are always attuned to the constraints faced by developers and builders alike. We hope to see tangible results and eagerly anticipate further funding announcements to support more inclusive housing initiatives.

As we wrap up this blog, we hope you found the information provided useful and insightful for navigating the funding landscape in Nova Scotia. Stay tuned for our next installment as we further explore federal funding opportunities and address the pressing question: What’s delaying affordable housing projects in our region?

Sarah is the Manager of Business Development and Marketing at Turner Drake. She has a breadth of experience working in business development and brings extensive expertise in navigating government funding and private equity landscapes. Interested in exploring funding options for your development? Reach out to Sarah at or by phone at (902) 429-1811.

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