What is Riverside Estates?
Riverside Estates is a unique volunteer-led initiative to address the lack of affordable housing in the town and county of Antigonish. It is an innovative model for housing in small, rural communities which combines the resources of government, local municipalities and local supporters to create low-cost housing that is energy-efficient, and provides tenants with a chance to reduce their heating costs, grow their own food in a community garden, and together build a strong neighbourhood.
Why is Riverside Estates needed?
Families and individuals living on modest means deserve safe, good quality housing they can afford, but finding that housing has long been a major challenge for these community members. No new public housing apartments have built in the Antigonish area since 1996. According to the Eastern Mainland Housing Authority, as of August 2016, the waiting list for housing in the town and county stands at 247, which includes single mothers and their children, seniors and people living with disabilities. The competition for low-cost housing between university students and people living on low incomes means those who are most vulnerable end up in precarious living situations which are often unsafe and/or poorly located with no security of tenure.
Does affordable housing really make a difference?
Research shows that when there is affordable housing families can save money to meet important needs and/or plan for the future. They can free up resources for better quality food and other basic needs. Secure housing promotes increased mental and physical health and gives residents a sense of independence, identity and pride. It improves educational outcomes for youth and has a positive effect on surrounding property values when it is well-designed and maintained. For more information visit www.vichealth.vic.gov.au for a Housing and Health Research Summary.
When will Riverside Estates be open to receive tenants?
The four one- and two-bedroom units in Phase 1 were offiicially opened in April 2017, and are fully occupied. Another 10 units are planned for Phase 2 of the housing initiative once funding is secured.
Will the apartments be accessible to people with disabilities?
Three of the proposed 14-units will be barrier-free and accessible to people using motorized wheelchairs. Two units were completed in Phase 1 and are now occupied. Two more units are planned for Phase 2.
Who can apply?
To be eligible, a prospective tenant must have lived in Antigonish Town or County for at least three years; at least one member of the household must be 18 years of age or older; no member of the household owes any money to any affordable housing provider; and no member of the household has been convicted of misrepresenting their income for the purpose of rent-geared-to-income assistance. Preference will be given to those living on low incomes as defined by the Nova Scotia Housing Authority. To qualify for a unit, single tenants must make below $33,500; multiple person households below $37,800 annually.
How will tenants be selected?
Tenants of Riverside Estates will be selected according to criteria developed under the guidance of the Community Navigator, as a well as an Ad Hoc Tenant Selection Committee of external resource people, including a social worker and a landlord. The committee will choose prospective residents based on a combination of their core housing need, application date, and category of housing need (e.g. barrier-free). If an applicant is shortlisted for tenancy, s/he will be asked to meet with the committee to discuss the application further.
Will the information provided by prospective tenants be protected?
All employees and volunteers serving with the AAHS are required to sign a Confidentiality Agreement to protect the information provided by prospective tenants during the application process.
What rent will tenants be expected to pay?
The rental fee for a one-bedroom unit is $530/month; a two-bedroom unit is $610/month. Tenants will also be required to pay for their heat and lights.
How do I apply?
You can print off an application form located here Tenant Application Form (pdf).
You can also pick up and drop off an application at the Town Hall, Municipal Office, the Antigonish Women’s Resource Centre, or the circulations desk of the People’s Place Library. To request a form be sent to you, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or contact our Community Navigator, Carleton MacNeil, at 902 318-3732.
What is the role of the Community Navigator?
The AAHS believes that a Community Navigator is a crucial part of an effective housing strategy. Most tenants in supportive housing face multiple and complex barriers to employment, including mental health issues, addictions and other disabilities. These tenants are less likely to obtain work independently, or to use traditional job search activities successfully. The Community Navigator will provide support to residents from the day they move in until their residency ends. The Navigator will help tenants access services and life skills support, foster social support among tenants, and create pathways for involvement in social and leisure activities with people in the neighbourhood and in the wider Antigonish community. Ultimately, the aim of the Navigator is to work with the tenants to turn the housing units into homes, and together, create a community.
What is the Tenant Advisory Group?
Adult residents of Riverside Estates are automatically members of a Tenant Advisory Group that meets with the Community Navigator every two weeks to discuss issues that affect everyone in the building and ways to help residents feel a sense of community.
Will there be a property manager?
Yes a property manager will be contracted to collect rent and maintain the building and grounds in good physical order.
Is there a lease?
Yes residents will be asked to sign a one-year lease.
Is a security deposit required?
Half the monthly rent will be required as a security deposit before assuming tenancy. When a resident moves out, the property manager will return the deposit, with interest. The deposit may be used to cover the cost of any unpaid rent, damages caused by the resident beyond normal wear and tear, or bills and costs AAHS must cover if someone moves out without giving proper notice.
Are pets allowed?
AAHS encourages tenants to be responsible pet owners, as evidence shows that physical and mental health are improved with the companionship of a pet. Residents can keep a bird, fish, hamster or cat as long as the pet doesn’t disturb or harm other residents. Cats must be spayed or neutered and residents are expected to clean up their pet’s waste immediately. Tenants must register their pet with either the property manager or the navigator, and provide a contact that can look after their pet in case of emergency.
Is smoking allowed?
Smoking will be permitted in one of the four units in Phase One of the development, provided none of the other units are negatively impacted. Smoking must be done in a safe manner and smokers are reminded of the rights of non-smokiers to smoke-free spaces such as the shared yard. Tenants and their guests who choose to smoke outside are asked to ensure that they properly dispose of their cigarettes/packaging. Tenants will be fully responsible for all costs associated with any evidence of smoking in units, including nicotine stains, ash residue and burn marks.
Does affordable housing affect property values in the surrounding area?
According to the National Associaton of Realtors in the United States, most studies indicate that affordable housing has no long-term negative impact on surrounding home values. In fact, some research shows the opposite, a net plus. According to McQuade and Diamond (2015), building affordable housing lowers the crime rate, both violent and property crime, and attracts a more racially and income diverse population. Other studies (Albright, Derickson and Massey, 2013; Goetz, Lam and Heitlinger, 1996) found the influence on property values tends to be minimized when the development is of high quality, is well-managed, and is aesthetically attractive and consistent with the surrounding housing stock.