Affordable housing in Nova Scotia is getting harder to come by.
Some are calling it a crisis and there is a renewed call for rent control and eviction protection for tenants.
Zach Wells began renting apartments 16 years ago He’s never seen the type of demand he’s seeing today.
“The last two vacancies we filled haven’t been through ads they’ve been through word-of-mouth which is a sign of what’s happening,” Wells said.
What’s happening is the lack of supply is driving up the cost of rent, beyond what many can afford.
“For people on the bottom end of the affordability spectrum, especially people with pets, people with kids even, it’s becoming desperate,” Wells said.
It’s a problem that has been festering for years, with quite a bit of talk, and little action.
“There’s been a population growth, but there’s also been a real lack of investment in social market housing,” said NDP housing spokesperson Lisa Roberts.
Couple that with job losses from COVID-19 and the number of people in need of a home that fits within their budget is spiking.
“We still don’t have rent control, we don’t have eviction prevention during a pandemic is making the situation even worse,” Roberts said.
There could be help on the horizon.
Recently, $8.7 million was made available from the federal government for low-income housing projects in the Halifax area as part of the “Rapid Housing Initiative.”
The Halifax Regional Municipality also just sold land in Dartmouth North for a dollar per lot to a not-for-profit group who plan to build affordable housing units.
“They’re going to build 25 to 30 townhouses and these are going to be nice, attractive buildings and anywhere from 30 to 50 per cent of those will be affordable,” said Halifax Regional Coun. Tony Mancini.
Mancini says the overall responsibility for affordable housing is the province’s, but he admits that even though it’s not the city’s mandate, its citizens must be protected.
There are currently more than 400 people in Halifax who have been homeless for more than six months.