While Nova Scotians struggle to find affordable housing because of past government neglect, new details have emerged about 119 housing units sitting empty in the Western region, all while $33 million earmarked for housing has gone unspent.
Progressive Conservative MLA John Lohr, who represents Kings North, says he was disappointed that the government has refused to renovate the units while the province has been stretched thin for affordable housing, especially when freedom of information requests show that some are ready to house families(attached.)
“These units are very badly needed right now,” says Lohr. “While it’s clear that some are simply in the turn-over process, a surprising number have been vacant for a number of years.”
Progressive Conservatives are trying to determine the total number of units across the province that are sitting empty, as well as exactly how much money the government is refusing to spend to fix them. According to last year's Housing Nova Scotia Annual Report the department continues to underspend on Future Social Housing Expenditures and has accumulated a growing surplus in excess of $33 million.
PC Critic for Housing and MLA for Sackville-Cobequid Steve Craig says that if the Department of Municipal Affairs and Housing does not have the resources to deal with these vacant units, they should be sold so that private industry can repair them.
“How many empty units are there across the province?” Craig asked. “Clearly this is a factor in the lack of housing. Government owns units but it seems it has not adequately budgeted to get repairs done.”
Craig has written repeatedly to the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing for details surrounding the housing shortage and shelter spaces, but as Lohr notes, with the legislature shuttered by the McNeil Liberals, the Minister does not have to answer.
“I am disappointed to again see another example of Liberal Government mismanagement.” says Lohr. “With so many struggling to find a place to live, we can’t be leaving government assets empty out of neglect.”