The provincial government is spending $2 million toward a provincial growth fund to support Black-led community housing projects.

In a news release on Tuesday, the province announced the money would go to “Community Housing Growth Fund to create a dedicated stream to support Black-led community housing initiatives.”

According to its website, the Community Growth Fund (CHGF), which was announced in April 2022, offers financial resources to support Nova Scotia’s non-profit and co-operative housing sector. The funds can be used for capacity building, planning and pre-development, and research and innovation. To date, the fund has awarded $2.25 million in grants to 56 community housing projects across the province.

“Government is committed to addressing the historical housing inequities experienced by African Nova Scotians,” said Minister of African Nova Scotian Affairs Twila Grosse in the news release.

“This $2-million investment will create vital housing organizations to build capacity, plan and explore innovative options. Growing community capacity is an essential step in finding effective, sustainable solutions and addressing the unique interests and housing needs of Black Nova Scotians.”

The news release also quoted Brandon David, a founding member of the Upper Hammonds Planis Community Land Trust, who said the money will be a “boost” to grassroots housing efforts like the land trust.

This capacity-building grant empowers the Upper Hammonds Plains Community Land Trust to take a significant step forward, collaborating with partners to enhance our organizational strength. It’s a move that supports our community’s future,” David said.

Three people sit at a table smiling for a photo. Behind them is a whiteboard with words and phrases written all over it
Curtis Whiley, left, Dr. Lynn Jones, and Brian Giffprd at a meeting about the Upper Hammonds Plains Community Land Trust. Photo: Contributed/Curtis Whiley

In September 2022, Curtis Whiley, another founding member of the Upper Hammonds Plains Community Land Trust, told the Halifax Examiner the trust wanted a say in zoning issues and how to purchase plots of land on which more housing can be built. Upper Hammonds Plains is a historic Black community whose first residents came to the area in the early 1800s.

Whiley said the trust was also about preserving the community’s history, while creating housing.

“This is a model that’s not really been used in Atlantic Canada for this purpose. Community land trusts have a history, a Black history that I think because of the unique history of our communities here it’s something we have to be using,” Whiley said. “I think it’s going to enable us to build significant capacity in our communities, in terms of people capacity and also financial capacity, for us to address some of those issues. Because of years of systemic discrimination, we don’t have the same capacity in terms of having developers, engineers, planners, and all the people that you need to put together to make these things happen. For us, it’s about developing partnerships with these types of critical stakeholders so we can really build that capacity and build project through to completion.” 

While CLTs are built from the vision of the community, Whiley said he has a vision of what he’d like to see.  

“I picture us being able to develop our own communities, subdivisions in particular, which have modest housing, so it fills step along the housing continuum that we don’t really think about.” 

There is also a community land trust in the Black community of The Marsh in Truro.

Eligibility requirements and applications for the Community Growth Fund are available here.

Suzanne Rent is a writer, editor, and researcher. You can follow her on Twitter @Suzanne_Rent and on Mastodon

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