Government commits over $1.6 million to Mahone Bay affordable housing

by Keith Corcoran

Government is committing $1.67 million toward affordable housing for seniors in a new Mahone Bay apartment building.

Construction of the 26-unit Brookside Apartments off Kinburn Street starts this year and 13 of those units will be eligible for rent supplements in support of residents with lower incomes. The federal and provincial governments are promising $375,000 toward the supplements.

The bulk of the funding - $1.3 million - helps developer Bob Youden build the $3 million-plus residential project aimed largely at the seniors market.

A news release about the funding said Brookside Apartments, being built by Youden's company MADE for Mahone Bay, is the first affordable housing project to benefit from a spike in capital contributions for new rental housing projects. The money available increased to $50,000 per affordable unit from $25,000.

During a March 13 news conference announcing the funding, Youden said Mahone Bay is a welcoming community for seniors and the project is possible because of a partnership with the public sector. He said it's the only way for a developer in the province to get a tenant's net rent low enough.

"A piece of two-by-four costs exactly the same to put into affordable housing as it does to put into a luxury condominium. Gyproc doesn't get cheaper. Concrete isn't cheaper," Youden said.

All the apartments will be built with accessibility features to help tenants with mobility issues.

South Shore-St. Margaret's MP Bernadette Jordan said the importance of stable affordable housing is as important to small towns and rural areas as it is for cities.

Lunenburg MLA Suzanne Lohnes-Croft, whose constituency includes Mahone Bay, said Youden's project will make a difference for residents who aren't in a position to maintain a house but aren't ready for long-term care and want to stay in their community.

The funding for Brookside Apartments comes via the Investment in Affordable Housing Agreement between Ottawa and the province.

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