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Affordable housing conference targets rural expertise

KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) – On Friday November 18th housing advocates will get together to talk about housing needs and challenges in rural Nova Scotia.

Two parallel conferences, one in New Ross and one in Antigonish, are expected to accommodate about 100 participants. The conferences are being organized by Rural Housing Nova Scotia, an informal network of housing advocates and stakeholders.

I am one of many housing advocates across the province who have been chipping away at housing issues in our local communities for a while now,” says Nancy Green, one of the organizers of the conference.  

screenshot_2016-11-03_at_3-07-33_pm“It’s come up over and over again that we need to work together in a more coordinated way if we are to have a greater impact on policy and the way the programs are delivered. Housing is such a complex challenge for our communities, and the issues that come into play for rural  communities make it even more complex,” Green says.

Greene mentions lack of access to transportation, a lesser population density, and less development as some of the issues that make rural Nova Scotia very different from Halifax or even urban parts of Cape Breton.

“More and more communities are looking at housing as an issue. I wouldn’t say we’re in a crisis situation, but we will be of we don’t take action now,” says Green. “As we have an aging and declining population, it becomes an issue of sustainability. If people can’t afford or have access to housing options in rural Nova Scotia, than they will not stay.”

The conferences will allow participants to exchange information, and hopefully pave the way for a more coordinated approach by rural housing activists and stakeholders in the future.

“It’s so complex. So many people are working on so many different things, and there are so many ways to approach the challenges. It may seem overwhelming when you work by yourself,” says Green.

The time is right, says Green. The federal government is working on its national housing strategy, Nova Scotia’s premier Stephen McNeil identified housing as the most urgent issue on the horizon, and affordable housing was hotly debated during the municipal elections.

The conferences are filling up quickly, says Green, who emphasizes that the organizers are targeting people who are actively engaged in housing issues in their rural communities and who are familiar with the issues.

She did make an exception for this reporter, who is both ignorant and urban, but was given permission to attend nonetheless. We will keep you posted.

Visit Rural Housing Nova Scotia’s conference website and like the group on Facebook.

See also: Weekend video. Affordable Antigonish. The housing crisis in Nova Scotia’s small towns

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