Mayor says seniors in Digby among those in need of affordable housing


Published on March 17, 2017

Digby Town Hall. Digby's mayor, Ben Cleveland, says seniors are in need of affordable housing in particular due to their fixed incomes.

©Sara Ericsson

DIGBY, NS - Seniors are among those in need of affordable housing in Digby town and across the county, according to Digby Mayor Ben Cleveland.

Cleveland says affordable housing is an issue, since low-priced rental units are not always in good shape.

“We have many individuals in Digby looking for affordable housing, but the conditions in current housing are very poor. Basic standards need to be in place,” he says.

“It’s really unfortunately some landlords choose not to maintain their units.”

Cleveland says seniors in particular are at risk, with the majority being on fixed incomes with little wiggle room for rent costs.

“Many seniors are single or widowed and living on Living Assistance Services, and the Canadian Pension Plan – giving them about $1200 a month. It’s pretty obvious they’re not going out and renting an $800 apartment in Digby,” he says.

“Either that or they’re spending all their money on housing.”

The province issued a release Mar. 13 announcing the construction of a new 26-unit building, called Brookside Apartments, in Mahone Bay, containing affordable housing units for seniors.

Project funding came from a Mahone Bay contracting company, and also from a $1.3 million investment from the federal and provincial governments through the Investment in Affordable Housing Agreement.

Dan McDougall, President and CEO of Housing Nova Scotia, says the organization is “aware affordable housing is important across the province.”

While there are no current affordable housing projects for seniors forecast in Digby, McDougall said the investment agreement would consider any proposals submitted by development groups across the province.

“We receive all applications and analyze them, and when funding is approved we announce them,” he says.

For anyone to start a conversation about building affordable housing in Digby, McDougall says to reach out to either the Western Region or Halifax Housing Nova Scotia office.

The organization would look at the following criteria to determine whether the proposal would pass:

        ·      Inclusion of affordable housing in the project;

        ·      Cost of construction and amount of capital contribution (up to 50,000$ per unit);

        ·      Location of potential project in terms of proximity to services, and

        ·      Information on hand in the community.

A negotiation process to reach approval for an application would then follow.