But the work continues.
That was the message coming from the Antigonish Affordable Housing Society (AAHS) which, in a press release late last month, were pleased to announce they had achieved their fundraising goal for the Housing For Hope campaign.
“The society announced the start of its capital campaign in February 2018 with the ambitious goal of $250,000 to put towards the cost of building Riverside Estates, its affordable housing multi-family complex on Hope Lane,” the release noted, before quoting chair Colleen Cameron acknowledging support from Antigonish residents and businesses.
“They have generously contributed everything from goods and services to auction off at our curling and pool events, to volunteering their time and talents performing at our Christmas concert,” Cameron said. “We couldn’t have done it without them and the many people in the community who came out to support our events.”
Her second quote in the release recognizes the ongoing work.
“Although AAHS will be winding up its Housing For Hope campaign, we will still need to do some fundraising during the year to ensure we can continue to keep our rents below market value and to provide social support for our residents through our full-time Community Navigator,” she said.
Cameron went into more detail about what still needs to be supported in talking to the Casket March 21.
“One thing we’re still working on is, we have a mortgage but we also borrowed money to do this build; so we’re trying to reduce that sooner rather than later,” she said.
“Our whole thing is, once we get our debt down, we can refinance and start looking to build something else. That’s in our minds; we’re looking about and exploring different things but, financially, we have to get down our debt and then refinance.”
She noted self-sustainability of the housing is an end goal.
“We haven’t had a full-year of income from our tenants yet but we’re expecting our operating costs will be covered by the rents we have,” she said.
“We’re hoping because it’s new, it (maintenance) is not going to be a problem for a few years, so we can start to build up a reserve for that sort of thing.
“What we have extra is the social support; the community room and our community navigator and that is above what we could bring in for rent. That is a major part of our vision - social support, so we’re looking at different options at getting funding for that.
“We expect at some point we’ll be at a scale where, again, that will also pay for itself. We see ourselves being sustainable in the future but we also expect there will always be some fundraising to do, because of that social aspect.”
Cameron talked about looking at solar panels down the road.
“Applying for the provincial government solar program; if we get accepted for that, we’ll put up solar panels and, eventually, we’ll be selling power back to the grid – to Nova Scotia Power – which will bring us an income to help finance some of this,” she said.
“We have a number of strategies in place to get to the final point where we’re, more or less, looking after ourselves. Of course that takes time and because we’re a non-profit, it takes us more time, we can’t raise the rent. We have to continue with that.”
The next couple of fundraisers on the AAHS docket include an artwork auction at the Red Sky Gallery in April and a dance with music by the Working Class Band in May. Check out the society’s website (antigonishaffordablehousing.ca) or Facebook page for details.