Affordable Housing Grant Program

The 2021-2022 Affordable Housing Grant Program is now closed. 

On March 1 2022, Regional Council approved an additional $415,245 to the 2021-22 Affordable Housing Grant Program to award a total of $815,245 to affordable housing projects throughout HRM.  Successful projects are as follows: 

•    The Affirmative Ventures project was awarded $162,636 to contribute to the new development of a 45 unit residential dwelling with commercial/social enterprise space. The project is located in Dartmouth and will target seniors and residents facing mental health challenges.  

•    The Welcome Housing (Metro Non-Profit Housing Association)/YWCA project was awarded $180,327 for the renovation of a 4-unit building to provide affordable and supportive housing for mother-led families through the YWCA’s Supportive Housing for Young Mothers (SHYM) program. This project is located in Halifax. 

•    The Compass Nova Scotia project was awarded $472,282 to contribute to the new development of a 56 unit affordable co-op development. The project is located in Halifax and will target 50% of its units to residents in the following communities: women and children fleeing domestic violence, seniors, young adults, Indigenous people, people with disabilities, veterans, people dealing with mental health and addiction issues, LGBTQ2+, racialized groups, recent immigrants and people experiencing homelessness. 

In the spring of 2022, Planning staff will undertake an engagement program to hear feedback about the 2021-2022 Affordable Housing Grant Program and how the Grant can be improved in the future. If you or your organization would like to participate in the engagement, please email us

Staff will post information about the 2022-2023 Affordable Housing Grant Program on this webpage in the fall of 2022. 

 

About the Affordable Housing Grant

The Affordable Housing Grant Program is open to all registered non-profit or charitable organizations for the development or renovation of affordable housing units.

A complete overview of the program’s requirements and eligible work can be found in Regional Council’s Administrative Order. Affordable dwelling units are considered units that are owned and maintained by a registered non-profit or charitable organization targeted to households of low to moderate income.
 

Who is eligible?

The Affordable Housing Grant Program is eligible to registered non-profit or charitable organizations that have been incorporated for at least one year.

Partnerships between a registered non-profit/charitable organization and a private developer may be considered where there is an agreement for the transfer of ownership of the affordable dwelling units, that are the subject of the grant, to the non-profit/charitable organization prior to occupancy.

When is the deadline?

Applications for the 2021-2022 Grant Program are now closed. Staff will post information about the 2022-2023 Affordable Housing Grant Program on this webpage in the fall of 2022

How do I Apply?

Applications for the 2021-2022 Grant Program are now closed. Staff will post information about the 2022-2023 Affordable Housing Grant Program on this webpage in the fall of 2022.

How are applications prioritized?

Projects are prioritized based on criteria outlined in the Administrative Order:

(a)    projects that have applied and are eligible for funding by
         a.    the Province of Nova Scotia, including Housing Nova Scotia, or
         b.    the Government of Canada, including Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), 
for the purposes of developing or restoring affordable housing units;
(b)    projects that are required to provide a public benefit for incentive or bonus zoning pursuant to incentive and bonus zoning provisions of the Centre Plan, Downtown Halifax Plan, or a development agreement;
(c)    projects by those non-profit organizations who currently serve those in need of deep affordability;
(d)    projects that exceed accessibility requirements of the National Building Code;
(e)    projects that include energy-efficient design and components that substantially exceed the requirements of the National Building Code;
(f)    projects that have received an order from the Municipality to comply with By-law M-200, the Standards For Residential Occupancies By-law;
(g)    projects that demonstrate financial self-sustainability;
(h)    projects by applicants that demonstrate resources and capacity to support additional housing units;
(i)    projects by applicants with experience in successfully managing existing affordable housing dwelling units; and
(j)    balancing the allocation of money collected through the density and incentive bonus program to different areas of the Regional Centre.

Common Questions

1. What is the Affordable Housing Grant Program? 
HRM’s Centre Plan, which was approved by HRM Regional Council in two parts in 2019 and 2021, includes provisions requiring some developments to provide a “public benefit”. At least 60% of the required public benefit must be money in lieu of affordable housing, paid into the Municipality’s Bonus Zoning Reserve.   

The AHG was created by HRM Regional Council to fund affordable housing within the Municipality. The Grant is controlled by Administrative Order Number 2020-008-ADM Respecting Grants for Affordable Housing, which was passed by HRM Regional Council on September 30, 2020.

Funds from the Bonus Zoning Reserve can only be allocated to projects within the Regional Centre
             ____________________________________________________________________

2. The Administrative Order includes helpful definitions. Here are some that may be useful when you are reading through these common questions:  

Non-Profit Organization: means a

(i) society incorporated pursuant to the NS Societies Act;

(ii) non-profit association incorporated pursuant to the NS Co-Operative Associations Act;

(iii) not-for-profit incorporated pursuant to the Canada Not-for-profit Corporations Act;

(iv) non-profit organization otherwise incorporated pursuant to an Act of the Nova Scotia Legislature, or 

(v) registered Canadian charitable organization;

Affordable Housing: means housing that meets the needs of a variety of households in the low to moderate-income range

Deep Affordability: means dwelling units rented at a minimum of 40% below the average market rents for a dwelling unit of the same type and within the most specific geographic zone available through the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation or Statistics Canada;

Regional Centre Area: means the Regional Centre Area shown on the most recent version of Schedule 1 of the Regional Centre Land Use By-law.                                                    ____________________________________________________________________

3. What kinds of units are eligible for the Grant?
Section 480 (2) of the Land Use By-law for the Regional Centre lists the types of projects that will be eligible for the Affordable Housing Grant: 

(2)          Money-in-lieu accepted for affordable housing shall be required to be used within the municipality for:

    (a) the rehabilitation of existing affordable housing units, including building assessments, provided by a not-for-profit organization or registered Canadian charitable organization;
    (b) the acquisition of buildings, housing units, or properties for affordable housing;
    (c) the creation of new affordable housing units by a not-for-profit organization or registered Canadian charitable organization;
    (d) a housing agreement permitted in Clause 73(b) of the Charter; or
    (e) any combination of Clauses 480(2)(a) to 480(2)(d).

Section 73 (b) of the Charter says:
The Municipality may enter into and carry out agreements

    (b) with

          (i) the Minister of Community Services or Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation with respect to housing projects, or

          (ii) any body corporate or agency having similar objects to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation with respect to projects pursuant to the National Housing Act (Canada);

Any type of dwelling unit is potentially eligible, including apartments or condominiums, homes, duplexes or townhouses. Eligible units must be owned by a qualified Non-Profit Organization (NPO), as defined in the Administrative Order to be eligible for the Grant.                                                          ____________________________________________________________________

4. How many projects will be selected?
The number of projects selected will depend on the number and quality of applications received, and by the amounts being requested by the selected projects.
                                                       ____________________________________________________________________

5. Will all available money be distributed?
This will also depend on the number and quality of applications received, and on the amounts being requested by the selected projects.                                                                     ____________________________________________________________________                 
6. At what stage of the development process does the Non-Profit Organization (NPO) have to own the units dwelling units to be eligible for the Grant?
To be eligible for the Grant, one of the following conditions must apply:

  • The subject property or units must be owned by one or more NPOs; or

For funds to be distributed prior to ownership by an NPO, a written agreement confirming that ownership of the units will be conveyed to an NPO prior to Occupancy is required.   
                                   ____________________________________________________________________                                                                  
7. Is it enough that a Non-Profit Organization is a partner in the proposed development?
No. To be eligible for the Grant, each individual unit must be solely owned by one or more Non-Profit Organizations.
                            ___________________________________________________________________

8. How will the successful projects be chosen?
Selection criteria are listed in the Administrative Order, including the following priorities:

•    Projects that have applied and are eligible for funding by the Province of Nova Scotia, including Housing Nova Scotia, or the Government of Canada, including Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), for the purposes of developing or restoring affordable housing units;

•    Projects that are required to provide a public benefit for incentive or bonus zoning pursuant to incentive and bonus zoning provisions of the Centre Plan, Downtown Halifax Plan or a development agreement;

•    Projects by those non-profit organizations who currently serve those in need of deep affordability;

•    Projects that exceed accessibility requirements of the National Building Code;

•    Projects that include energy-efficient design and components that substantially exceed the requirements of the National Building Code;

•    Projects that have received an order from the Municipality to comply with By-law M-200, the Standards For Residential Occupancies By-law;

•    Projects that demonstrate financial self-sustainability;

•    Projects by applicants that demonstrate resources and capacity to support additional housing units;

•    Projects by applicants with experience in successfully managing existing affordable housing dwelling units; and

•    Balancing the allocation of money collected through the density and incentive bonus program to different areas of the Regional Centre.                                             ____________________________________________________________________

9. What happens if the grant is awarded and paid but the development is not completed?
Successful applicants will be required to sign a Contribution Agreement, which will require Affordable Housing Grant money to be repaid if the scope of the project changes, or if the project does not proceed.
                                           
____________________________________________________________________

10. Are there any requirements for the size of the affordable units or the number of bedrooms in the units being provided?
No. There are no requirements relating to the size of the units or the number of bedrooms to be eligible for the Affordable Housing Grant. However, proposed developments must meet all other Municipal requirements, including those in the applicable Land Use By-law and the Building Code.
                                         
____________________________________________________________________

11. What costs are eligible for the Affordable Housing Grant?

  • Acquisition of buildings, housing units, or properties for affordable housing;*
  • Property and building assessments;*
  • Construction costs for new units and units being rehabilitated; and
  • Design costs for new units and units being rehabilitated

                                                                ____________________________________________________________________

12. What costs are ineligible for the Affordable Housing Grant? 
According to the Administrative Order, the following costs are ineligible for the Affordable Housing Grant: 

×    Private sector construction of affordable housing dwelling units;

×    Rehabilitation of affordable housing dwelling units that are not owned by a non-profit organization; and

×    Operating expenses of the non-profit organization, including wages of employees of the non-profit organization, debt payment, or losses from a previous fiscal year
                                              ____________________________________________________________________

13. Where can I find the application form?
Applications for the 2021-2022 Grant Program are now closed. Staff will post information about the 2022-2023 Affordable Housing Grant Program on this webpage in the fall of 2022.
                                            ____________________________________________________________________

14. What is the deadline for application? 
The Administrative Order prescribes that AHG applications for the following year open on September 1st and close on December 1st. 

The Affordable Housing Grant review team must receive all materials required by the application form by this deadline. 

Potential applicants are strongly encouraged to reach out to municipal staff prior to the deadline if there are any outstanding questions. 

Please email: Jill MacLellan or Jamy-Ellen Klenavic for additional information. 
                                  ____________________________________________________________________

15. When will HRM decide which projects will receive the Grant? 
The municipality will aim to notify successful applicants in the February following the application window. 
                                    ____________________________________________________________________

16. What if I need more funding from HRM to complete my project?
For projects within the Regional Centre, staff may request additional funds from the Bonus Zoning Reserve through a report to Council. 
                                   ____________________________________________________________________

17. Can two Non-Profit Organizations apply for the Grant in Partnership with one another?
Yes. As long as all applicants are qualified Non-Profit Organizations, applications from a partnership would be considered. 
                                       ____________________________________________________________________                              

18. Is the Affordable Housing Grant initiative a partnership with the Province or is it solely an HRM initiative?
The Affordable Housing Grant is an HRM initiative. However, projects that also qualify for funding from Housing Nova Scotia or the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) will be given priority. 
 

 

Have questions about the Affordable Housing Grant Program? Send us an email.