By Monique Chiasson and Harry Sullivan
Truro Daily News
TRURO – The Town of Truro has officially been named one of the few places in Nova Scotia to become involved in a new long-term housing strategy.
During the next 10 years, $500 million will be spent to support new and enhanced affordable housing projects and programs in the province. A graduate home ownership program to encourage young people stay in their communities may also be implemented.
Town Coun. Greg MacArthur was in Dartmouth on Monday when the announcement was made by Premier Darrell Dexter and Community Services Minister Denise Peterson-Rafuse.
“Truro is very lucky. There’s a big need for it here … we want to make sure no one is without affordable housing and make sure people feel they are a part of society,” MacArthur told the Truro Daily News after informing town council about the good news on Monday afternoon. He said Halifax and Bridgewater were also taking part in the project, along with a few other Nova Scotia sites.
Among the programs that Housing Nova Scotia is considering are down payment assistance, lease-to-own opportunities, the graduate home ownership program, and retrofit programs to help seniors and families caring for loved ones with disabilities stay in their homes longer.
Locally, MacArthur said the former Alice Street Elementary School property could be the model used in this area. A public hearing will be held on June 10 at the next regular monthly town council meeting to discuss a potential agreement with Meech Holdings Ltd. to create a 28-unit development that could be incorporated in the new initiative.
MacArthur said the project will assist people needing a more affordable home as well as dealing with landlords who neglect their property.
“They could be given money for their property and it would be bought by a reputable landlord and move the tenant there,” MacArthur said.
The councillor said the project is coming to fruition in part by the efforts of Truro Bible Hill MLA Lenore Zann.
“We’ve worked for more than a year with Lenore on this,” MacArthur said.
Zann said the initiative is great news, indeed.
“I’m thrilled and excited and I’m really happy for the people of the province, because this is so needed,” she said, adding the effort is also a way to deal with homelessness.
“Because this will do away with shelters. Really, shelters will become something that will not be necessary. That’s what we’re hoping.”
The housing strategy was built on themes that emerged from province-wide public consultations held last year with more than 500 Nova Scotians, including non-profit and community organizations engaged in housing issues, housing developers, governments, and residents.
In addition, developers and municipalities will have the opportunity to work with the Atlantic Co-operative Council, Canada Co-operative Council or Habitat for Humanity.
MacArthur said the next step locally is to meet with government department officials and make formal decisions about the Alice Street property.