Halman introduces bill to waive utility fees on charitable housing

October 09, 2019 at 9:23 am

Dartmouth East MLA Tim Halman introduced legislation that would allow charitable housing organizations to spend more money on programming rather than on utilities.

Amendments to the Public Utilities Act would allow Halifax Water and other utilities to reduce or waive fees on charitable housing projects.

“Waiving the public utilities fees for charitable housing, removes a barrier to safe and affordable housing for our most vulnerable,” said Halman. “This policy allows us to remove red tape and fees that will encourage the development of more charitable houses in our province.”

These amendments are welcome news for Affirmative House in Dartmouth, that provide affordable supportive housing for those suffering with mental health.

“The Affirmative Ventures Association supports this bill to have Halifax Water fees waived or reduced for charitable housing projects. We look forward to working with all levels of government in addressing the challenges and barriers associated with developing charitable housing” said Ken Greer, Board Chair, Affirmative Venture Associates.

Affirmative House provides housing and training supports for mental health consumers.  The organization saw a 1000 percent increase to their permit fees since their development in 2007. Seventy percent were water costs. These utility fees add to the cost of running charitable housing projects, which make these projects more difficult to operate and often results in higher rent for tenants.

“Protecting charitable housing projects from massive fees and rate hikes is a key component to providing safe, supportive and affordable homes for those in need,” said Halman. “This is a common sense bill that helps charitable houses help those in need.”

In March 2019, HRM voted to waive all municipal permit fees for non-profit housing projects, but this initiative did include fees on new buildings.