Lot-Leveraging Program: An Affordable Housing Renovation Project

On July 27, 2014, the Affordable Housing Renovation Partnership presented a cheque for $2,000 to the Red Brick Row Investment Cooperative to help its project to renovate these historic miners’ houses for safe, comfortable, affordable housing. It’s a demonstration project we call “Lot Leveraging,.”

The demonstration project worked like this: A CBU faculty member purchased a vacant lot in Sydney Mines at a tax sale. The lot is within walking distance of amenities and it is serviced. He then sold that lot for a modest price to allow a small, affordable home to be built. The money from the sale was then donated to AHRP to support an affordable housing renovation project in the same neighbourhood.

AHRP selected the Red Brick Row, 12 units dating to 1829. The rehabilitation is being supported by community investors through a tax-deductible CEDIF (community economic development investment fund). This is a project with a solid business plan that is already showing tangible results.

We believe that the lot leveraging program offers a number of “wins”: it can put tax-delinquent properties back on the tax rolls. Those properties can be used for (tax-paying) affordable housing. And money from the sale can support much-needed renovation projects. Not only does this create affordable housing, but it complements crime prevention efforts, it revitalizes neighbourhoods, and it creates local jobs.

Through this example, we hope to encourage owners of unused lots (including the municipality) to sell some of these and contribute the funds for affordable housing projects.