12 Aug Liberals Commit to Funding Affordable Housing Initiative in Historically African Nova Scotian Upper Hammonds Plains
UPPER HAMMONDS PLAINS, NS – A re-elected Liberal government will provide $300,000 of seed funding to the Upper Hammonds Plains Strategic Initiatives Committee to create affordable rental, multi-unit, and single detached homes and, as well, protect the community’s cultural heritage.
Premier Iain Rankin announced the funding in the historic African Nova Scotian community of Upper Hammonds Plains, today, with Ben Jessome, Minister of the Public Service Commission and Liberal candidate for Hammonds Plains-Lucasville, and Curtis Whiley, a member of the committee.
“We need sustainable, community-led approaches to increasing housing supply. Innovation like this will make life more affordable for the original families of Hammonds Plains and pilot an affordable housing model for other communities across the province,” said Premier Rankin. “This project recognizes African Nova Scotian leadership and innovation. It presents an opportunity for us to continue building trust.”
The funding will support the committee to complete the foundational work to establish a Community Land Trust (CLT), including incorporation, strategic planning, community engagement, and partnership building.
CLTs were first established during the civil rights movement, led by Black Americans, in Albany, Georgia in 1969. They are typically nonprofit corporations that obtain and hold land and housing for the benefit of the communities in which they exist.
An initial community engagement survey found 100 per cent support for establishing a CLT, with local respondents sharing that it will help to stop the displacement of original families and make sure that future development protects the proud history of the community.
Upper Hammonds Plains was first settled around 1815 by approximately 500 Chesapeake Blacks, following the War of 1812.
Curtis Whiley, a 6th generation descendent of the original settlers of Upper Hammonds Plains, noted the community has a history of taking on transformational projects, such as building a local church, establishing the first Black volunteer fire department in North America, operating the Whiley Saw Mill, and securing clean drinking water.
“This partnership gets our project off the ground. It’s the difference between starting and waiting,” said Mr. Whiley. “Now we can get to work on building housing that serves our community and setting an example that others can learn from.”
Minister Jessome said, “This investment is about equity and affordable housing. This community dares to try new things and has the passion to follow through. I’m excited for others to learn from what they achieve.”
The announcement builds on the Liberal Party’s commitment to implementing all recommendations from the Affordable Housing Commission Report, which was released in May.
The Rankin Liberals are the only party to make a platform commitment to implement all the commission’s recommendations.
The commission’s membership included planners, academics, housing experts, nonprofits, and developers and participation from organizations such as the Co-operative Housing Federation of Canada, Glooscap First Nation, ACORN, Brightside, and Housing Alternatives.
It recommended exploring innovative ideas such as CLTS; providing funding to support the creation of CLTs and building more affordable housing through a mixed-income and multi-partner approach.
The commission does not recommend permanent rent control, citing concerns about suffocating supply, diverting investment away from rental units, and potential for deterioration. Instead, it suggests that full implementation of the report’s recommendations will result in better long-term outcomes for all.
The Liberal Party’s commitment to funding project builds on its previous commitments to affordable housing:
- Allocating $25 million for five quick start initiatives recommended by the Affordable Housing Commission to immediately increase supply and access to affordable housing.
- Developing a 10-year plan to address affordable housing for the long-term.
- Committing up to $25 million to a pilot program in each of the next two years to incentivize construction of new affordable housing units, including rebates of the provincial portion of HST on construction costs for new affordable housing units.
- Creating a provincial loan fund for non-profit housing organizations to facilitate the acquisition of rental properties that are being sold or risk being converted to market-rate housing.
- Expanding housing options available to include secondary suites and garage lofts, tiny homes, and other non-traditional forms of housing.
- Introducing renter protections, requiring compensation for renters who are displaced from their homes due to improvements being carried out on the property — tenants will be eligible for compensation equal to one month’s rent for each year they have lived at their current dwelling, up to six months.