Housing coalition finds lack of affordable housing in Queens

Published on March 16, 2017

The South Shore Housing Action Coalition has found that 30 per cent of people in Queens County can’t afford their rent.

LIVERPOOL - The South Shore Housing Action Coalition has found what most people in Queens County already knew – there is a lack of affordable housing in the region.

The coalition, which recently conducted a housing needs assessment on the South Shore, made a presentation to the Region of Queens Municipality recently.

Nancy Green, a representative of the coalition, said the coalition believes that all people deserve access to quality, safe affordable housing at every stage of life.

The study found that that isn’t happening in Queens.

She said affordable housing means that people should not be spending more than 30 per cent of their before-tax income on housing.

The study found that in Queens County, the median shelter costs is $598 a month.

The study found that 30 per cent of residents in Queens cannot afford median rental costs, and 20 per cent can’t afford median owner shelter costs.

She pointed out that the Region of Queens has the lowest average rents, at $637 a month, when compared to other South Shore communities like Bridgewater, Lunenburg, and Mahone Bay.

But that is still too high for many residents, she says.

“We heard 44 per cent of those who responded to our survey indicated they are paying more than 30 per cent of their income on core housing each month,” she said.

“When you look at what social housing is available in your community, it’s largely for seniors. We don’t have a lot for families or individuals,” she said.

She said about 13 per cent of people on the South Shore are living on low income.

Deputy Mayor Susan MacLeod pointed out that families seem to be falling through the cracks in Queens when it comes to social housing.

Green said the data shows that one in five households in Queens require more affordable housing.

“If you are paying more than paying 30 per cent of your income on housing, they are facing strain and struggle in maintaining your home.”

The study also asked landlords and developers what their issues were.

The strongest answer, at 15 per cent, was a weak local economy, and unemployment. Fourteen per cent said property taxes were a barrier to development.

She said the coalition recommends that the Region of Queens create a tenant’s collective.

“The tenant pool is suggested to encourage investment and identify demand in the rental housing market buildings,” she said.

“A developer isn’t likely to come in develop without the security of knowing that they’re going to have a steady pool for a period of time so they can recoup their costs.”

She said there is money available through Housing Nova Scotia to build affordable housing. A developer can now access $50,000 per unit through that program.

The federal government is also creating a national housing strategy, but there are no details available until the federal budget.

“We’re hoping that the assessment here can help position Queens to be ready to receive money from the government when it becomes available.”