The Antigonish Affordable Housing Society (AAHS) has announced it is moving forward with the second phase of its Riverside Estates initiative.
“As of Friday (Nov. 10), we have got all our financing in place and we have notified our contractor to move forward with the foundation,” AAHS chair Colleen Cameron said.
“What we are going to do is get the modules built, off-site, and put them onsite, quickly, so that it will be framed in before the real snow flies.”
She noted work will continue throughout the winter, with tenants expected to move into their new homes in May.
The 10-unit second phase will include four one-bedroom and six ‘townhouse style’ two-bedrooms – with the latter having an upstairs and downstairs. Two of the one-bedroom units will be barrier-free.
Two units – either one or two bedrooms – will include rent subsidies.
“Our rents are affordable and well below the market rate, but they are still not affordable for many people in this community,” Cameron noted.
“If you are on social assistance, you cannot afford to live in these units. But, if we get the rent supplements, two of them would be for that situation.”
As for the tenant intake process, Cameron said it will begin sometime in the winter with a call for applications.
“We do not have wait lists – people call and say ‘put me on the wait list,’” Cameron said, noting the process is not the same, in that way, as the one through the Eastern Mainland Housing Authority.
Selection will be based on income, in accordance with Housing Nova Scotia’s regulations, as well as a commitment for proportional representation between Antigonish town and county.
Eligibility also includes a stipulation that people have lived in Antigonish for a minimum of two years.
Applications can be picked up at town hall (in Antigonish) and Peoples’ Place Library, or they can be downloaded from the AAHS website – antigonishaffordablehousing.ca
“We will, definitely, get the word out when we are looking for applications,” Cameron said, adding the process “takes a bit of time.”
The 10-unit complex will include a community room, an element that has been in the spotlight recently with AAHS’s participation in the 2017 Aviva Community Fund competition.
Regardless of whether or not monies come from that area, Cameron said, they are “committed” to including a community room in phase two.
“This is what we believe in – to build community you need a place for the community to gather, so that’s our intention and that’s what we are going to work towards,” she added.
Noting there remains “a lot more work to do,” Cameron talked about a recently-launched $250,000 community fundraiser.
“The whole purpose of the fundraising is to get our costs down, so we can keep our rents low,” she said.
Cameron noted AAHS recently received a $2,000 donation from the Opportunity Shop on Main Street.
“It was lovely – we really, really appreciate it,” Cameron said.
She added there will be upcoming events as part of the fundraiser, where volunteer contributions – ‘person power’ and ideas – will also be more than welcome.
“People can also go on our website and donate through Canada Helps,” Cameron noted.
‘What’s the need?’
“There is a big need,” Cameron said, responding to her own question, one she noted remains a common one in the Antigonish community.
To illustrate that ‘big need,’ she outlined some recent local housing numbers, including 24 families on the Eastern Mainland Housing waiting list – 13 or which require two bedrooms; 61 seniors and 25 non-elderly singles.
“And this [does not include] people working full-time, on minimum wage, so there are all kinds of other people, as well, who need affordable housing and are not on a waiting list,” Cameron said.
“Even though we have a beautiful community, there are people struggling, for sure.”