Nova Scotians hoping to build strong bridges in community housing sector

With the active support of the Community Housing Transformation Centre and St. Francis Xavier University’s Extension Department, Nova Scotia’s non-profit and co-operative housing groups are exploring the need and desire to strengthen their individual and collective capacity to further develop the sector.

Unlike Québec, Ontario and British Columbia, which have long traditions of cooperation and collaboration in the community housing sector, the province of Nova Scotia has pressing housing needs, but little connection among local housing groups, coalitions, and organizations. For now. But if a core group of community housing supporters in the province gets its wish, by 2022, the portrait could be very different.

That’s why the Community Housing Transformation Centre has been recruited as an independent facilitator for an engagement project, partnering with the St. Francis Xavier University Extension Department.

Build together: Strengthening the Community Housing Sector in Nova Scotia was granted $100,000 by the Centre (half of the project’s $207,000 budget) from its Sectoral Transformation Fund. Mission No. 1? To reach out to community housing advocates and providers in all corners of the province and solicit their participation in the project.

“The project will provide the community housing sector with opportunities to share experiences, successes, challenges, and ideas for working together,” says the grant application. The goals include:

  • building an understanding of the supports and resources required to develop and sustain community-housing programs, projects, and services;
  • strengthening the provincial voice when advocating for supports, funding, research, and capital investment in community-based housing solutions; and
  • providing Nova Scotian organizations and institutions with a means to engage community-housing groups and organizations, disseminate information, share opportunities, and explore common objectives.

The StFX Extension Department’s participation is invaluable, says Renée Hébert, the Centre’s Maritimes program manager. “Their roots in Nova Scotia are deep. They know the region, they know the people, and they have extensive experience in the critical social and economic issues facing the Atlantic provinces.”

“They also have a long history of working with local communities to help them recognize their strengths and to build on them. We couldn’t ask for a better partner.”

Extension Department lead Pauline MacIntosh is enthusiastic about the project’s potential.

“The Build Together project will provide an opportunity for people working in the community housing sector in Nova Scotia to have a voice and to make connections with others doing similar work,” she notes.

“This is a time to say what is working well, where capacity can be strengthened, and what kinds of supports would help the sector achieve more, better, and faster. Throughout the Build Together project, we expect to get a clear sense of whether members want to move forward together and if they do, what form they wish to take.”

MacIntosh stresses the importance of hearing directly from those working to ensure adequate, safe, and affordable housing for Nova Scotians on low incomes. “We intend to open spaces in which members of the [community] can articulate their vision for the sector and what supports and structures, if any, would help them achieve it.”

Since reaching out to housing groups to see who’s out there and to encourage involvement is an essential first step, the Build Together project launched its own webpage March 15.

The page, which is part of the StFX Extension website, will be a repository for the project’s findings, including monthly updates, survey and sector-consultation findings, and research related to community-housing sector models and organizations elsewhere in Canada.

“We are also very interested in hearing other ways the web page can be used to support the work of the sector,” MacIntosh adds.

For more information, go to the Build Together web page or email Pauline MacIntosh or Renée Hébert.

Our latest stories

Power to the tenants: ACORN celebrates big wins

Power to the tenants: ACORN celebrates big wins

People may have trouble remembering what ACORN stands for, but there’s no question that the housing-rights organization has taken stands that led to major gains for tenants across Canada through the work of its 24 neighbourhood chapters.

Community Affordable Housing Solutions in Toronto: ‘We are stronger together’

Community Affordable Housing Solutions in Toronto: ‘We are stronger together’

The NPO Community Affordable Housing Solutions is an example of compound collaboration. It is the result of the efforts of a community group in Toronto that fought for affordable housing in the Bloor Dufferin area, efforts that resulted in an agreement between a real-estate developer, the city of Toronto and the community group. It is also the result of the synergy between Habitat for Humanity GTA, the St. Clare’s Multifaith Housing Society and the Co-operative Housing Federation of Canada to establish a land trust and to administer the funds raised by the agreement.

Pandemic prompts birth of housing association in Montréal suburbs

Pandemic prompts birth of housing association in Montréal suburbs

Long perceived as a Mecca for single-family homeowners, the West Island of Montréal has been a lonely place for tenants seeking support services. A grant from the Centre, however, is helping turn the tide by funding the establishment of its first housing association.

Housing groups applaud new round of RHI funding

Housing groups applaud new round of RHI funding

The federal government announced $1.5 billion for the second round of the rapid housing initiative on June 30. This phase of the program, which addresses some of the concerns raised in the first round, was well received by community-housing stakeholders, although they want the initiative to be become a permanent program.

Strengthening the First Nations housing industry, one member at a time

Strengthening the First Nations housing industry, one member at a time

Being a housing manager is rewarding, but not for the faint-hearted. And for those working on reserve, it can be a lonely career path—something the First Nations Housing Professionals Association hopes to remedy. Since 2019, it has been working to professionalize this career path and offer its support to housing professionals across the country.

WoodGreen: An ambitious plan and partnerships to support growth

WoodGreen: An ambitious plan and partnerships to support growth

WoodGreen Community Services in Toronto has an ambitious plan to build 2,000 affordable housing units over 10 years. To tackle the challenge, the non-profit organization, founded in 1937, turned to the Community Housing Transformation Centre to help it acquire the resources it needs for the campaign.

Share This