Matt Richards wasn’t too worried about housing costs – he has a government job, his wife works, and they live in a Halifax suburb long known for its affordability.
But in less than two weeks, Richards, his wife and four children are due to vacate the four-bedroom duplex in Lower Sackville that they have rented for three years and temporarily move into his brother’s house.
“I make good money and the wife works full time… I have a good job and I’m broke, so someone with a job that doesn’t pay so well, I don’t know how people could. do, ”he said.
Richards pays $ 1,550 per month (including heat) to rent a four-bedroom duplex, but his owner sells the house. Richards’ efforts to find a new place in the community proved unsuccessful, with similar housing options costing around $ 2,200 per month, excluding utilities.
“There is stuff out there, but only if you make a fortune,” said Richards, 41, whose rental is just three doors down from where he grew up.
Reasonable housing costs were once a selling point for living in Nova Scotia, but prices have skyrocketed in recent years in a housing stock that has not kept up with population growth.
Advocates and tenants alike have sounded the alarm bells on the state of the housing market, including in the August provincial election, and the issue gained further public attention last week when police in Halifax sprayed cayenne pepper and arrested protesters in the city’s downtown core as authorities cleared dozens of tents. and temporary shelters for camps in local parks and green spaces.
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With a federal election underway, the focus has shifted to what major federal parties will do to help address Nova Scotia’s affordable housing crisis, which now extends beyond low-income households. returned.
Affordable Housing Shortage “Quite Serious”, Expert Says
Although there has been a persistent shortage of housing for low-income people in Nova Scotia, a new twist is that working households are unable to find affordable housing, said Neil Lovitt, vice president of the consultant. Halifax real estate Turner Drake.
“Because the housing shortage has become quite severe, they are now being affected in a way that they were not before,” he said.
Lovitt calculated that in the Halifax area alone, an additional 20,000 to 25,000 rental units would be needed for the housing market to have healthy vacancy rates.
He said the shortage occurred mainly because construction of rental units has not kept up with population growth in Nova Scotia, which has seen an influx of immigrants, an increase in international student enrollments and more people moving to the province from other parts of Canada. .
To deal with soaring rents, Nova Scotia introduced a temporary rent cap last fall, which limited rent increases to 2% and banned renovations. But the days of the rent cap are numbered, Nova Scotia Premier-designate Tim Houston said on Monday.
“Before, maybe it was something that was easy to ignore,” Lovitt said. “Maybe we could convince ourselves that this is not really happening here, or maybe not in my neighborhood or my part of the province. Now we all know that this is a big problem and it affects in sort of people we could see ourselves in their place. “
WATCH | Protesters arrested, sprayed with pepper as Halifax authorities remove shelters:
He said increasing the supply of housing would help solve the problem, but a shortage of skilled trades means the construction industry cannot easily increase output. On top of that challenge, some residential construction projects take up to a decade to move from design to construction, Lovitt said.
Richards has a message for federal politicians on the campaign trail: “Get up and do something. Too many people find themselves homeless here in Nova Scotia.
What the main federal parties plan to do
The main federal parties have different ideas on how to make housing more affordable.
The Liberal The plan includes a pledge to “build, preserve or repair 1.4 million homes over the next four years” and to double the first-time homebuyer tax credit from $ 5,000 to $ 10,000.
The Preservatives say they will build a million homes over three years, including converting at least 15 percent of federal government properties into housing.
The NPD plans to build 500,000 affordable housing units over the next 10 years and proposes a 20% foreign tax on buyers who are neither Canadian citizens nor permanent residents.
The Green vegetables did not release their platform, but recently called on the federal government to update its affordable housing formula.
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Meanwhile, Nova Scotians continue to see housing costs rise beyond their means.
Ally Doubleday is a 30-year-old mother of two caught in this predicament. Until last fall, she lived in the Annapolis Valley in Nova Scotia, but returned to the Halifax area to live with her father to save for a down payment for a house. Now, the cost of a house is out of reach for her, as are the rental prices.
Doubleday earns $ 15 an hour running a gas station. She said she recently had a conversation with her mother in which she described how “disheartening” her situation was.
“I make good money and go to work every day, I don’t phone when I’m sick, I don’t miss shifts,” she said. “I don’t go out and spend money on anything. I don’t go shopping, I don’t paint my nails.
“I don’t have any outside expenses. And even without any of that stuff, I’m still struggling and, you know, it just makes the person a little shitty.”