Like many Canadian cities, Halifax has faced challenges providing quality, sustainable and affordable housing. Record high real estate and rental prices, limited housing supply and in-migration that outpaces development have all contributed to this issue. As a result, there is a growing population, particularly among vulnerable people, who are unable to find and retain affordable housing.
This project will establish a community land trust (CLT) model and implementation plan to address these challenges. The CLT will be based on leading practices and adapted to Halifax’s context. In particular, its implementation plan will feature an extensive consultation process that foregrounds the interests and values of the community. This will result in a comprehensive implementation strategy that can be supported by both the community and decision-makers.
3 Key Innovations
The project’s core principles of equity, diversity and inclusion will address the systemic housing challenges impacting marginalized communities.
The CLT’s model development will incorporate a grassroots approach, providing lived experience and other vulnerable population contributors with financial compensation.
Community feedback will be used to develop and workshop CLT models that fit with local needs and contexts.
Project scope and expected outcomes
An opportunity to establish a community land trust solution for affordable housing in Halifax
Halifax's non-profit housing sector is under-developed compared to other jurisdictions across the country. Many agencies are small and independent and they lack the experience and resources to undertake large-scale development and/or acquisition. This is especially true when they must compete with private real estate developers in the open market. As a result, affordable housing stock is affected or lost, resulting in increased housing insecurity and poverty for many vulnerable groups.
There is an opportunity to establish a CLT in Halifax to help address these challenges. CLTs are non-profit corporations created to acquire and hold land for a community. The land is perpetually held in trust to help provide access for community use, such as affordable housing. CLTs are membership-based organizations, governed by an elected board of directors, and often made of community members and non-profit organizations.
A Halifax-based CLT could establish an alternative to the free market approach to housing that currently threatens affordability. Initial research into potential models for a Halifax CLT have already been completed. The next step is to refine that research and develop an implementation plan for a municipal-scale CLT for the City of Halifax.
Exploring how a municipal-scale community land trust can address systemic housing challenges in Halifax
With support from the NHS Demonstrations Initiative, this project will explore how a municipal-scale CLT can address Halifax’s systemic housing challenges. It will design a CLT model based on leading practices and adapted to Halifax and the needs of its communities. It will then collaborate with a strong coalition of partners to create an implementation strategy for the CLT. That same coalition will also serve as CLT’s primary implementation partners.
The demonstration’s comprehensive engagement with the community will ensure their interests and needs are represented in the final CLT model. Special attention will be paid to the perspectives of those with lived experience and historically marginalized populations. This approach will ensure the resulting CLT is specifically designed to serve Halifax’s non-profit and affordable housing needs.
Synthesizing stakeholder ideas and values into a community land trust design
The project team will begin by deepening their knowledge of successful CLT models. This will be shared with a wide range of community and housing stakeholders. These outreach efforts will focus on inclusion, accessibility and dialogue. This includes cultural and other accommodations, such as translators, and compensation for lived experience representatives. The goal of this engagement is to gather an understanding of the various community perspectives on an Halifax CLT.
The findings of the community stakeholder engagement will then be synthesized into several Halifax-appropriate designs. The goal is to ensure that vital community perspectives are reflected in the design. Key prospective CLT contributors will be identified, the system readiness will be assessed and the best CLT option will be selected. The core partners will then develop a strategy for implementing the selected model, including roles, responsibilities, costs and timelines.
Dramatically expanding and diversifying affordable housing opportunities in Halifax
The project’s proposed CLT model and plan have the potential to expand and diversify Halifax’s affordable housing opportunities. They will help leverage collective assets, develop and retain critical skill sets in the non-profit sector and increase community sector capacity. Over the longer term, there may be other positive effects, including greater staffing stability and improved service delivery. Existing infrastructure may receive performance and environmental upgrades and public relations may also improve.
While the project’s focus is on Nova Scotia, there is the potential for regional and national impact. Project reports, including a case study, will be made available online and shared at conferences. These resources may interest other community groups, non-profit organizations and municipality community land trusts in Atlantic Canada and across Canada.
Program: NHS Demonstrations Initiative
Demonstration Title: Halifax Affordable Housing Community Land Trust
Lead Organization: United Way Halifax
Collaborators and Partners:
- United Way Halifax
- Halifax Regional Municipality
- Davis Pier Consulting
- Housing and Homelessness Partnership (HHP)
- CLT 902
- Upper Hammonds Plains Strategic Initiatives Committee
- Mi'kmaw Native Friendship Centre
- Housing Nova Scotia
- David Slipp - Stewart McKelvey Law
Location: Halifax, NS
Get more information:
Email Innovation-Research@cmhc.ca or visit our website to learn more about the initiatives under the National Housing Strategy.
Interested to learn more about community land trust solutions for affordable housing? Join the Expert Community on Housing (ECOH) CLT/Land assembly virtual community of practice!