Councillor Michael Dailly accepts a contribution to Nelson's affordable housing fund from Susan McLaren and Jessica Curran of Ellison’s Market.

Nelson’s affordable housing fund: where it comes from and what it’s used for

Ellison's is the first community donation to the fund. Earlier contributions have all been from developers.

Last week Ellison’s Market donated $1,500 to the city’s affordable housing fund. The money was raised at the market’s Heritage Fair earlier this month.

“We feel really happy that the community came out and supported this cause,” said Jessica Curran, the event coordinator. “This fair is about appreciation for our community while also having fun and enjoying our vibrant heritage spirit.”

That brings the balance in the city’s affordable housing fund to just under $39,000.

Where does the money in the fund come from?

The Ellison’s donation is the first one of its kind to the fund. All other contributions have come from developers who have been persuaded by the city to contribute a negotiated amount per unit (see sidebar, below).

Nelson Commons and Nelson Landing

For example, the developers of Nelson Landing  recently agreed to provide $500 per unit. Nelson Commons, on the other hand, has reversed its original decision to contribute $1000 per unit and will instead be reducing the price of three of its units to 25 per cent below market value, because they say this will contribute more to affordable housing over the long term than a one-time donation to the fund would.

The least expensive of these “restricted resale units” will see a one-bedroom unit reduced from $265,000 to $198,750. This per cent reduction must stay in effect if the unit is re-sold, and the city will manage the three units. Nelson Commons has developed criteria for applicants so that customers are those most in need of lower cost housing.

What it’s been used for

Since the fund was created in 2009, the city has made the following withdrawals:

• $246.50 in 2009 for a housing forum

• $2500 in 2010 to develop the city’s affordable housing strategy

• $20,444 in 2014 to produce a detailed affordable housing needs study (attached below)

• $15,000 in 2014  as a contribution to the Nelson CARES Room to Live campaign.

Although the city owns many buildings, it does not own any housing units and does not consider itself to be in the business of directly providing rental housing, according to councillor Michael Dailly, who  is the chair of the Nelson Housing Committee.

What it can be used for

According to the city’s affordable housing policy the fund may be used

• to hire consultants or staff do research or produce reports

• to manage or administer the cost of developing low cost housing units owned or managed by the city or non-profits.

• for legal costs of developing affordable housing units.

• to purchase land for affordable housing

• for utility connection charges, development application and building permit application fees for not-for-profit agencies creating affordable housing units

• for other activities related to carrying out the Nelson Affordable Housing Strategy or any part thereof.

Nelson Housing Needs

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