Hazel Stedman lived near Melmerby Beach for over 50 years until she was robbed. The police suggested that he move.
But she is a senior on a fixed income with three cats. Stedman, 92, struggled to find an affordable place that would also accept his pets.
Then she heard that the Tara Motel in New Glasgow might have room for her.
She didn’t realize it at the time, but she was about to find her new home.
“When I came here, everyone was oh so wonderful,” Stedman said as she sat in a lawn chair outside her front door.
“You wouldn’t believe it. Sometimes when you’re a senior you don’t understand that. I wouldn’t want to go anywhere else.”
“The need is crying out”
The Tara Motel has since evolved into Coady’s Place, a 36-unit co-op site where people’s rent is based on 30% of their annual income. The goal is to have all units full by Canada Day.
Filling these units will not be a problem – 122 people have applied for a space.
Diane Kelderman is president and CEO of the Nova Scotia Co-Operative Council, the group that operates Coady’s Place. She said the level of demand speaks to the magnitude of the need for affordable housing in Nova Scotia.
“The need is dire not just in Pictou County but, you know, across the province,” she said.
Co-op housing is different from other housing development approaches, Kelderman said, because the focus isn’t on the bottom line.
“It’s about mission and vision. It’s about creating a sense of community. It’s about caring for people.”
The project receives support from all three levels of government. The province is investing $3 million, there is $2 million coming from Ottawa and the city of New Glasgow is granting a 20-year property tax exemption.
Premier Tim Houston said as his government works to address the province’s housing crisis, it will be important to support more projects such as Coady’s Place.
“We listen to anyone who has an idea…because that’s what it takes to make sure everyone is properly housed,” he said.
The Prime Minister praised the way all the partners have come together to support the project and are doing so in a way that it will happen quickly and on budget.
A role model
Kelderman said she believed the model could be emulated elsewhere and her organization was ready and willing to help.
No housing project is easy, but Kelderman said the council’s experience is that buying an existing property and converting it into affordable housing is much more efficient than building new.
That said, his organization is already considering further development on land owned by Coady’s Place that would lead to the construction of 20 duplex-style homes and two three-bedroom homes.
“We now have a model that I think can be a bit of a model for other areas, which we are happy to share.”