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Provincial responses, public housing in Halifax

We asked the province to respond to the main points in the story

During the reporting of his MJ project on public housing in Halifax, Alex Rose asked for an interview with a provincial representative to discuss issues raised by tenants and others. The request was declined.

The Signal strives to present a balance of perspectives in all of its reporting, so prior to publication and due to the passage of time since the original requests, we once again requested comment on core points in the story. This is the province’s response:

Would the province consider handing over control of public housing in HRM to the municipality?

Everyone deserves a safe and affordable place to call home. Housing Nova Scotia is committed to helping low-and-modest income Nova Scotians find a home that’s right for them and their families We welcome HRM regional council’s interest in ensuring that its residents have access to safe, affordable housing. There are many opportunities for HRM and other municipalities in Nova Scotia to address homelessness and affordable housing issues and we’re committed to working with them to build safe and connected communities.

We have spoken to people who say that inadequate maintenance sometimes creates unsafe living conditions. What  would you say in response? Why have you been unable to keep up with all of the required maintenance? How do you decide what to fix and what to defer? What are you doing to improve the condition of the public housing stock?

The safety and well-being  of our residents is a top priority for us. We take all concerns raised by our tenants very seriously and we make considerable efforts to address issues in a timely manner. When issues do arise, we quickly assess the situation to ensure that any potential health or safety risks are identified and any necessary temporary mitigation measures put in place while corrective actions can be undertaken and the work completed.

The public housing stock in HRM was built between the mid-1950s and mid-1990s.   As with any building portfolio this age, maintenance is an ongoing activity.  Staff do their best to respond to issues raised by tenants in a timely manner. Vacant units are refurbished between tenants to ensure they are ready to rent. Building conditions are monitored on an ongoing basis and we have multi-year maintenance plans to ensure that necessary investments are made in our housing stock so that tenants have a safe and affordable place to live.

Over the last two years we have invested $27 million through provincial and federal funding to make repairs and upgrades to the public housing stock.  We continue to make strategic investments to help preserve our public housing program, and Housing Authorities are working diligently to complete necessary work in a timely manner.

Halifax deputy mayor Waye Mason says that by paying less from assistance to house someone in a public housing unit than in a privately owned unit, public housing is being left short of money for maintenance and Housing Nova Scotia is effectively subsidizing assistance rates. What would you say to that?

Over the last two years we have invested $27 million through provincial and federal funding to make repairs and upgrades to the public housing stock.  We continue to make strategic investments to help preserve our public housing program, and Housing Authorities are working diligently to complete necessary work in a timely manner.  The National Housing Strategy provides an opportunity to explore new solutions and we certainly welcome any suggestions that promotes our goals.