Too many Nova Scotians are struggling to afford the place they call home, creating additional health and safety concerns during the COVID-19 pandemic and state of emergency. That’s why the province is taking steps to protect renters in all parts of the province from excessive rent increases and renovictions while it works on longer term solutions.
Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister Chuck Porter, also minister responsible for the Emergency Management Act, announced today, Nov. 25, immediate protections ordered under the Emergency Management Act:
— rents cannot increase by more than two percent per year
— landlords will not be able to get an eviction order for renovations
The province is also creating the Nova Scotia Affordable Housing Commission. It will work with experts in the public, private, non-profit and academic sectors to make recommendations about affordable housing strategies and actions.
“It is clear that our housing market is going through an unprecedented situation, made worse by COVID-19, and people need us to take immediate action as we look for sustainable solutions,” said Mr. Porter. “We will be working with our partners to identify opportunities and make evidence-based decisions that put us on the right path forward for Nova Scotians.”
The province is also taking another step to address homelessness in the Halifax area. An investment of $1.7 million will replace 30 beds that were taken out of the system due to physical distancing requirements under COVID-19 health protocols. More details, including the finalization of a service provider, will be shared in the coming days.
The protections for renters will be in place until Feb. 1, 2022, or until the state of emergency is lifted, whichever is sooner. Rental increase protections are retroactive to Sept. 1, 2020.
Members of the Nova Scotia Affordable Housing Commission include:
— Catherine Berliner, Department of Municipal Affairs and Housing – co-chair
— Ren Thomas, Dalhousie University – co-chair
— Chief Sidney Peters, Tawaak Housing Association
— Karen Brodeur, Cooperative Housing Federation of Canada
— Fred Deveaux, Cape Breton Community Housing Association
— Jim Graham, Affordable Housing Association of Nova Scotia
— Mike Dolter, Association of Municipal Administrators Nova Scotia
— Jeremy Jackson, Investment Property Owners Association of Nova Scotia
— Alex Halef, Urban Development Institute
— Gordon Laing, Southwest Properties
— Kelly Denty, Halifax Regional Municipality
— Michelle MacFarlane, Service Nova Scotia and Internal Services
— Joy Knight, Department of Community Services
Members will also be appointed from Cape Breton Regional Municipality, Department of Health and Wellness, and Department of Justice.
The commission’s first set of recommendations will be submitted to Mr. Porter within the next six months.
“No one should have to live with the constant anxiety of worrying about keeping a roof over their head, or unexpectedly having to find a new home for their family, particularly at this difficult time. Protecting tenants and creating the commission are important next steps as we work to find answers that balance the needs and rights of both tenants and landlords.”
– Patricia Arab, Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Internal Services
“Nova Scotia is facing significant challenges in terms of meeting the current and future demand for affordable housing, and keeping the units we currently have. It will take strong partnerships and collaboration between all levels of government, the private sector and our non-profit housing providers to address this situation. I look forward to working with stakeholders with a wide variety of perspectives and experiences on this important issue.”
– Ren Thomas, co-chair, Affordable Housing Commission
— for landlords to legally evict a tenant for renovations, they must file an application with the residential tenancy program
— since March 22, the province has been under a state of emergency as a result of COVID-19
— government is investing $513 million over 10 years in affordable housing projects and programs
— since April 1, 647 people have been housed by provincially funded housing support workers
— over the past six months, more than 900 low-income homeowners have received a home repair or adaptation
— more that 2,500 households currently receive a rent supplement
— the recently announced Targeted Housing Benefit will help up to 1,700 households across the province