**** Community Services/Municipal Affairs/Housing Media Release
Investments to Help Fight Homelessness and Provide Affordable Housing
The quality of life for Nova Scotians greatly depends on access to safe and affordable housing. That is why government is investing hundreds of millions to fight homelessness, provide affordable housing and raise the income level of those who need it most.
This year, government will make the largest single investment in homelessness prevention with $20.5 million over five years for the Integrated Action Plan to Address Homelessness. The action plan will focus on finding permanent, stable and safe homes for people who are experiencing or at risk of homelessness.
Efforts to strengthen Nova Scotia’s housing programs will continue with an investment of $18.7 million to deliver on year two of the three-year Canada-Nova Scotia Housing Action Plan and additional housing priorities. This will include initiatives like the construction of new affordable housing units, repair and renewal of public housing units and improved accessibility of public housing units.
“A big part of this year’s budget is about helping to ensure Nova Scotians have access to things they need most to thrive,” said Chuck Porter, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. “Having an affordable place to call home, with access to services and supports, helps build safe and connected communities.”
This year will also see the largest single increase to the Nova Scotia Child Benefit since it was created in 1998. The income threshold for the Nova Scotia Child Benefit will be increased and families with incomes of $34,000 or below will now be eligible. The expanded child benefit will support almost 28,000 families and 49,000 children.
The amount families receive will also increase. Eligible families will now receive $925 per year for their first child. That is up to $300 more for some families. For each additional child, families will receive between $412 and $825 depending on income level.
“Supporting healthy children, youth and families is key to building a stronger province,” said Kelly Regan, Minister of Community Services. “Government’s investment in the enhanced Nova Scotia Child Benefit will put more money directly in the hands of families who need it.”
Additional investments include:
— $250,000 to double the budget for the Down Payment Assistance Program, for a total of $500,000. This will expand the program’s lending capacity from $1.1 million to $2.2 million and allow more low and modest income home buyers to enter the housing market
— $2 million to sustain the Affordable Renters Program which can lower energy bills for low-income renters, make homes more comfortable and ensure rents remain stable through energy efficiency upgrades to multi-unit buildings
— $400,000 to keep children out of shelters
— $17.3 million to support the Standard Household Rate under the Income Assistance program to improve the monthly income of Nova Scotia’s most vulnerable
“The Integrated Action Plan to Address Homelessness encourages a coming together – governments, community agencies and stakeholders – using our joint resources and different programs to move in a collaborative manner with full intention of making a positive impact to reduce homelessness within our city of Halifax and the Province of Nova Scotia. The ministry unit I lead at The Salvation Army Halifax Centre of Hope is very pleased to be an ongoing partner and supporter of this plan.”
– Vaden Vincent, major, The Salvation Army Centre of Hope
— through the Housing Support Worker program, 27 new housing support workers will be hired
— 500 new rent supplements will be available for 2020-21, 120 rent supplements will be directed to addressing homelessness
— as of January 2020, government made the largest increase in income assistance in the province’s history with the introduction of the Standard Household Rate
— government is increasing the eligibility threshold for the poverty reduction credit for the 2020 tax year. The new income threshold will be $16,000, up from $12,000
Department of Municipal Affairs and Housing Twitter: https://twitter.com/dma_ns
Department of Community Services Twitter: https://twitter.com/NS_DCS
Housing action plan website: https://housing.novascotia.ca/2019-2022-nova-scotia-action-plan
MUNICIPAL AFFAIRS/HOUSING–Amendments to Housing Nova Scotia Act
Changes to the Housing Nova Scotia Act will give the province formal authority to provide financial housing support directly to families and individuals so they can choose where they want to live.
Amendments introduced today, Feb. 26, will enable the Department of Municipal Affairs and Housing to deliver a direct, portable housing benefit for Nova Scotians as part of the 10-year National Housing Strategy.
“Every Nova Scotian deserves a safe and affordable home,” said Chuck Porter, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. “This expands our service delivery options and will allow us to provide financial benefits directly to clients, in addition to benefits that are designated for a residence.”
The province is working with the federal government to finalize details of the Canada Housing Benefit, which is one example of a direct benefit.
— the province signed a 10-year National Housing Strategy Agreement in August 2019 with the federal government
— this legislative change enables the option of a direct-to-household benefit, rather than having benefits attached to a specific residence
Nova Scotia’s Housing Nova Scotia Act can be found here: https://nslegislature.ca/sites/default/files/legc/statutes/housing%20nova%20scotia.pdf
Housing Nova Scotia 2019-2022 Action Plan
Housing Nova Scotia website: https://housing.novascotia.ca/