The affordable housing conversation has been a topical issue lately – particularly in the political sphere. The new Saint John Affordable Housing Action Plan is an example of a multi-government agreement that has been sought after for several years.
In fact, calls for this type of agreement have been occurring all over Canada due to the rising cost of living and the stress it is having on the Canadian population.
On January 10, 2023, the Saint John Council approved a new affordable Housing Grant Program to increase the number of affordable housing units in Saint John. The funding for the grant program has been provided by the Province of New Brunswick’s Regional Development Corporation (RDC) through funding received by the Government of Canada’s Transit Fund, which is known to support municipalities with transit shortfall and housing supply/affordability.
Saint John Mayor Donna Reardon stated:
“Affordable housing and homelessness impact cities in New Brunswick and across Canada. We need more affordable units, and we are working with our Provincial and Federal partners to create solutions. The Affordable Housing Grant Program will directly support the construction of new affordable housing units for residents of Saint John. We are pleased to launch this grant program and to help address housing affordability in our city.”
The applications for the Affordable Housing Grant Program were available from January 10 to February 8, 2023, on the City of Saint John’s website. The program will provide $10,000 per affordable unit for eligible non-profit housing providers up to a maximum of $200,000 and $8,000 per affordable unit for qualified private sector developers up to a maximum of $160,000. In addition, bonus funding of $50,000 will also be available to support innovative projects relating to accessibility and energy efficiency or that can address market gaps.
The outline of the requirements for a project’s eligibility was:
- Located in an area serviced by the City of Saint John
- Located within one kilometer of a transit stop (or within an intensification area as defined by the City’s Municipal Plan)
- In compliance with the Zoning By-law/Municipal Plan
- A building permit and proof of funding sources within 12 months of applying for a grant.
- Developers unable to provide a building permit with their application must meet with City staff for a pre-application meeting to determine eligibility.
The selection process of recipients to receive the funding was based on a scoring criterion by the Evaluation Committee. The developments were required to be located in an area serviced by the City of Saint John; be within one kilometer of a transit stop (or within an Intensification Area as defined by the City’s Municipal Plan); be in compliance with the Zoning By-law/Municipal Plan; provide a building permit and proof of funding sources within 12 months of applying. In addition to this funding, two out of the four projects are also being submitted for additional federal funding through the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s Rapid Housing Initiative, round three. The funds allocated to these four projects will be divided equally, each receiving $200,000.
Reardon says that “… the launch of the Affordable Housing Grant Program allowed the city to focus even more effectively on finding solutions for affordable housing needs in our community.” She continues, “we are fortunate to have a non-profit housing sector that understands the importance and urgency of addressing affordable housing and who are dedicated to making positive impacts that will help Saint John navigate the path to developing essential housing for those in need.”
The four recipients
#1. Steepleview Developments, Inc. will be a 56-unit mixed-income housing with 28 affordable units. It will be located at 25 Cliff Street.
#2. Kindredworks will create 95-unit mixed-income housing that will include 38 affordable housing units. It will be located at 50 Newport Crescent.
#3. Kaleidoscope Social Impact will have 39 affordable housing units. It will be located at 58 Broadstreet/Broadview Avenue.
#4. Rehabitat will have 60 affordable housing units located on the West Side.
For more information regarding the City’s Affordable Housing Action Plan, please see here.