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The exterior of Saint John City Hall is pictured in this file photo. Image: staff photo

Saint John considers new grant to boost affordable housing

By Brad Perry Apr 29, 2024 | 1:58 PM

Saint John city staff are proposing a new grant which they hope will help increase affordable housing.

Non-profit housing developers would be eligible to receive up to $25,000 in funding per project.

Andy Reid, the city’s housing manager, said the grants would help offset what are known as soft costs.

They are costs incurred directly in connection with the design and planning of a proposed project before construction begins.

“Design, engineering, architecture work that goes into the preparation of drawings, which then supports those developers’ applications to the higher levels of government,” Reid told members of council’s growth committee last week.

Reid said the program would complement the city’s affordable housing grant program, which provides grants of up to $200,000 to reimburse for hard costs for actual construction.

In order to qualify, developers would have to propose at least five net new affordable housing units, with 50 per cent of the developer consisting of affordable units.

The project must be new construction, conversion of an existing commercial or institutional use, or rehabilitation of a residential building.

Each eligible project would be evaluated by a grant committee according to a 50-point criteria to select the strongest applicants.

Some of the criteria include a demonstrated track record and financial stability of the organization; addressing critical housing gaps identified by the city; and the quality of submission in terms of project readiness, timelines for funding submissions, and anticipated construction dates.

“The grant should be able to support about four projects per year,” said Reid.

Growth committee members voted to recommend that council adopt the grant. Council is expected to vote on the recommendation at its next meeting.