Mary Lou Keith wanted to stay in rural Shelburne, but there was no affordable seniors’ housing available in her small community in Nova Scotia. Thanks to the work of dedicated volunteers and a non-profit housing organization, Mary Lou now lives at Harbourside Landing, a 40-unit apartment building that meets the housing needs of local seniors. The building, which opened in March 2014, is owned by Atlantic Baptist Housing, a not-for-profit charitable corporation that builds affordable seniors’ housing in small communities throughout Atlantic Canada.
“I thought it’s such a shame that these people who care so much about their community actually have to leave,” said Joan Bower of the Seniors Independent Housing Initiative in Shelburne. Her local committee worked with Atlantic Baptist Housing to create an alternative housing solution for Shelburne.
“We develop seniors’ housing in less densely populated areas, in response to the community needs identified by our 450 member churches,” explained Gerald Ingersoll, Executive Director of Atlantic Baptist Housing. This allows residents to age in place and stay in their communities.
“We work closely with our local committees to move the projects forward, develop partnerships with the municipality and obtain funding to reduce operational costs and keep the housing affordable. Once we established that there was a strong need for affordable housing here, we applied to CMHC for Seed Funding to help us begin the project.”
“Atlantic Baptist Housing used Seed Funding to engage an architect for preliminary designs and construction plans,” explained Charlie Aucoin of CMHC. “This was important to maximize land use, which in turn improved affordability.”
Given the size of the project and the shortage of local skilled trades, Atlantic Baptist Housing turned to manufactured housing as a viable option. Fredericton-based Maple Leaf Construction manufactured the components in its factory and trucked them to the site once the foundation was poured. Local trades helped complete interior and exterior finishes. Ingersoll estimated that this method significantly reduced construction time.
“Within six months of starting, we had people living there,” he explained. “That allowed us to begin to get revenue a little sooner as well.”
Mary Lou is grateful to have found affordable housing in Shelburne. “I’m so happy to be here, and I love this apartment and I like all the people in the building,” she said.