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Housing Hub calls for $1B investment in housing over 5 years

By Brad Perry Jun 23, 2023 | 7:05 AM

New Brunswick should invest $1 billion over the next five years to create 10,000 community housing units.

That is one of the recommendations in a new discussion paper released by the Housing Hub of New Brunswick on Thursday.

“We are at an important moment in New Brunswick’s history,” said the 24-page paper.

“Strategic, bold, and urgent action is needed now to ensure affordable and adequate housing for all.”

Thursday’s report was the third in a series of discussion papers addressing the province’s housing crisis.

It comes in the face of unprecedented population growth and skyrocketing rent prices in New Brunswick.

The first paper from economist Richard Saillant highlighted census data which showed the province lost nearly 9,000 affordable units between 2016 and 2021.

In the second paper, economist David Campbell identified a housing shortfall of more than 10,000 units resulting from recent population growth and insufficient new housing development.

The Housing Hub said the community housing sector, namely non-profit and cooperative housing partners, is the most reliable partner to ensure long-term affordability of these units.

“The data and evidence shows that, left to its own devices, the private housing market has not generated a sufficient supply of new affordable housing,” said the paper.

Despite the need for more housing, the paper finds there are not enough trades workers to get the job done.

Labour force data finds around 8.5 per cent of construction jobs are currently going unfilled, translating to nearly 2,000 positions.

The paper calls on the government to develop an aggressive strategy for immigration into construction and skilled trades that includes actions to support recruitment, upskilling, credential recognition, workplace integration, settlement and retention.

Other recommendations contained in the discussion paper include:

  • developing a Community Option to Purchase Act (COPA), that enables community housing providers to retain and create affordability in the rental market by acquiring multi-unit buildings that would otherwise be sold to the private market
  • exploring the creation of a provincial Community Land Trust (CLT) with a mandate to acquire land and housing assets with the purpose of ensuring affordability into perpetuity
  • supporting capacity building in the community housing sector through strategic regional plans focused on succession, sustainability, and growth in the sector.
  • supporting the Regional Service Commissions to ensure up-to-date and accurate province-wide housing needs assessments and action plans

The release of the three discussion papers comes as the province prepares to release an updated housing strategy before the end of June.


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