Residents of an apartment complex in Dartmouth, NS fear losing their homes after the land they live on has been quietly put up for sale.
Ocean Breeze Village, a mix of apartment buildings and townhomes, has just under 400 units in Dartmouth, near the MacKay Bridge.
Those apartments are among the last deemed “affordable” during a provincial housing crisis that has seen prices skyrocket amid COVID-19.
A listing of 396 Princess Margaret Blvd., by CBRE, a commercial real estate agency, describes the 57-acre property as a “multi-family platform opportunity.” It did not include a price.
He said the site has a high-density residential designation, “allowing for an estimated buildable density in excess of 3.2 million (square feet), making it, we believe, the highest density pool of any site in the HRM currently “.
But for Jordyn Johnson, who has lived there for 11 years, the site is not just an “opportunity.”
“It’s home,” said Johnson, who shares a $ 1,100-a-month unit with his partner and their one-year-old son. “I can’t pay anything more, this is all I have. We work very hard for this place. “
The list also said that the vacant status of the land was “unknown,” even though many people still live there.
Johnson didn’t know the land was ready for sale until the Nova Scotia NDP. tweeted about this last week. Johnson said they contacted his office last week and workers were also unaware it was for sale.
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Johnson is afraid of what will happen to them and the other tenants if it is bought by a developer who wants to demolish the apartments and build new ones. They were also concerned about the people who work there.
“There are a lot of people who are heartbroken,” Johnson said.
“There will be hundreds of us, children, families, there are people who have been here 20 years, with nowhere to go.”
‘Nowhere else’ to go
Global News was unable to reach Elia Corporation, the Ontario-based company that owns the building, for comment. Global has also submitted multiple requests to Universal Realty, which manages the building, but has received no response.
Clark MacIntosh, who lives in a three-bedroom townhouse in Ocean Breeze for about $ 1,100 a month, is also concerned about what the sale could mean for tenants.
“There are about a thousand people who live in Ocean Breeze here, and we know there are not a thousand affordable units available in the city, in case we are displaced,” he said.
“We need to be considerate during these discussions, and we won’t just be a group of people who can just move on. There is nowhere else to go.
“We want to make sure Ocean Breeze is affordable and available for homes.”
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MacIntosh said many tenants are “terrified.” He is making posters and banners for tenants to display and have their voices heard.
“It really is to let potential developers know that this is not just a piece of land for them to build, this is a community that is already here,” he said.
“Many of us are families, so many immigrant and migrant families here who have been displaced from their home countries … We are going to make sure we fight to make sure they are not now displaced by capitalism and the housing crisis.”
‘Impossible to know’ what will happen
Susan Leblanc, the NDP MLA of Dartmouth North, where the complex is located, said she has heard from several concerned tenants about the sale.
“There is a lot of fear, there is a lot of panic,” he said.
“As we know, there is a very limited supply of any type of accommodation at HRM, let alone affordable rental accommodation, so people are understandably concerned.”
According to the NDP, the median rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Halifax increased by 20 percent between January 2020 and January 2021, and the median price to buy a home increased by more than $ 100,000 between June 2020 and June. of 2021.
Leblanc said the units at Ocean Breeze can accommodate larger families and are good for people with children, something that is increasingly difficult to come by at HRM these days.
“I am really worried that that house will disappear,” she said.
However, Leblanc noted that it is still early and it is not yet clear what will happen.
“Someone could buy it and say, ‘We’re going to make an affordable housing haven here,’ or someone could buy it and say, ‘We’re going to tear everything down and build skyscrapers.’ ,'” she said.
“It’s really impossible to know at this point.”
More reaction to the provincial housing plan
Leblanc said that last year, the NDP introduced legislation that would give the government the first opportunity to buy property, so it can use it for government-run affordable housing or work with organizations to create affordable housing.
He said it would be a great opportunity for the province. “The province knows that we need to build more affordable units, so why not involve the province in that?”
At a scrum at Province House on Tuesday, Housing Minister John Lohr said he “certainly understands the concerns of the residents there.”
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However, he said the province is not considering buying Ocean Breeze at this time.
“Never say never, but I don’t think so,” he said, adding that recent government changes to the residential rental law and the extension of the rent limit would help tenants.
Meanwhile, Leblanc asks people not to panic.
“We will organize ourselves, we will do everything we can to make sure people stay at home,” he said. “But again, without real leadership from the government, that will be a challenge.”
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