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N.B. Housing Strategy needs more transparency: AG

By Brad Perry Jun 6, 2024 | 1:00 PM

Improvements are needed to make the New Brunswick Housing Strategy more transparent.

That is one of the findings in a report released this week by the province’s auditor general.

Paul Martin said he found the four targets were well presented, easy to understand, and measurable.

“However, the strategy does not document what actions are linked to specific targets and staff were unable to provide us with clear linkages,” said Martin.

The housing strategy, first announced in June, outlines 22 actions contained under four different targets.

  • Increase housing starts with a target of 6,000 per year.
  • Reduce the percentage of households spending more than 30 per cent of income on shelter costs to less than 15 per cent.
  • Create conditions to hold annual rent increases at an average of 2.5 per cent and the percentage change in average home prices to 4.8 per cent.
  • Decrease the number of households in need of subsidized housing to 7,500 by 2026 from the current waitlist of more than 11,000.

The strategy identified $500 million over three years in new and previously committed funding, though Martin said overall costs to government are not documented.

“50 per cent of the actions had no noted cost to government,” the auditor general pointed out.

“For example, the action to recruit and or pre-qualify 10,000 individuals in priority trade occupations to support immigration to New Brunswick had no program costs or housing solution for the immigrants included in the strategy.”

Martin also noted that in some cases, program details were not sufficient to determine if financial support was going to be a loan, a forgivable loan, or a non-repayable grant.

The auditor general’s report also indicated there has been no public reporting on the achievement of the four targets to date.

Martin made a total of seven recommendations to the New Brunswick Housing Corporation, which oversees the strategy.