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New provincial loan program for non-profit housing organizations

The Province of Nova Scotia announced a new lending program for non-profits seeking to acquire existing affordable housing to add to their supply, something the sector has said they needed in order to prevent the loss of existing units, and compete with the private sector which has been steadily buying them up. The Community Housing Acquisition Program (CHAP) will offer up to $10 million in repayable loans, with 95% loan-to-value financing and 100% financing for projects receiving operating funding by the Department of Community Services (e.g. supportive housing). The repayment period is up to 30 years, at the provincial borrowing rate of prime plus 1%. Priority will be given to registered non-profit organizations with the capacity to manage properties and tenants, readiness for acquisition, proportion of units obtained compared to financing requested, and short- and long-term market demand.

The Housing Trust of Nova Scotia has secured the first loan ($5.6 M) for five rental properties (with a total of 295 rental units), which will give tenants in these buildings much more security of tenure than they had in the red-hot Halifax market. In the provincial press release yesterday, HTNS President Ross Cantwell noted that, “There are a number of private property owners interested in selling to non-profit organizations like the Housing Trust of Nova Scotia. The Community Housing Acquisition Program will help us move quickly when these opportunities arise, thereby enhancing our ability to create a legacy of community-based affordable housing.”

Halifax Regional Municipality is also waiving the deed-transfer tax for buildings sold with the help of CHAP.

This is the latest step along what some of us hope will be the strengthening of the non-profit and co-op housing sectors in Nova Scotia. The Community Housing Growth Fund, announced a few months ago, is intended to help expand the sector through assistance with capacity building, pre-planning and development, research and innovation, and most importantly the establishment of a provincial non-profit housing association, which other provinces have had for decades (e.g. BC Non-Profit Housing Association, New Brunswick Non-Profit Housing Association). The development of such an association in Nova Scotia will increase capacity in the sector, assist organizations with management, research, and innovation, and help organizations access the latest information and federal, provincial, and municipal funding programs.


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