Antigonish Affordable Housing Society: Housing for Hope


Finalists in the running to improve the community.

Recently, the Antigonish Affordable Housing Society (AAHS) advanced in the Aviva Community Fund competition, bringing it one step closer to furthering its efforts in suitable and sustainable housing to the Antigonish community. It began in 2011, through the Antigonish Women’s Resource Centre, the AAHS’s goal is to build up a sustainable plan for implementing affordable housing in Antigonish while addressing the needs of the community and ensuring that housing poverty does not persist unsolved.

As a part of the 5 Year Action Plan To Address Poverty created in March of 2012 in Antigonish Town and County, the AAHS’s focus is not just in providing additional housing, but also to educate the community and make them aware of the issue. The Action Plan additionally outlines the goal of developing affordable housing complexes within 3-4 years. To accomplish their objectives, the AAHS needed funding, and so turned to the opportunity found in the Aviva campaign to gain the necessary monetary support in doing this.

The Aviva Competition, hosted by the Canadian insurance company, Aviva, aims to provide financial assistance to charitable community initiatives aimed at improving the welfare of local communities. In its eighth year of practice, this competition is known for strengthening the programs and projects intended to increase the connectivity of communities.

Housing for Hope is the name of AAHS’s campaign which is aimed to develop the Riverside Estates further, by providing a community room for the tenants of the complex units to come together and enjoy home, not just housing. As a space of welcoming and togetherness, the Community Room is necessary for the Estates, to ensure that residents are able to enjoy community events and live comfortably.

Riverside Estates already has a Community Navigator, a position intended to aid in communication and understanding of housing issues and solutions. Working with the Tenant Advisory Committee, this coalition of minds is intended to help empower residents while providing the support that has otherwise been lost to those who have been without such resources. The Community Room would provide a space within which this group could meet, allowing for a sustainable and far reaching program of inclusive housing that occurs from within the community itself.

Through the first part of the Aviva Competition, which involved an online voting process, Housing for Hope was able to become a finalist, bringing it that much closer to gaining the essential funding for AAHS’s housing plans. Under the Community Development section of the competition, AAHS could gain anywhere from $50,000-100,000 that would benefit their actions plans greatly. The second part of the competition involves a judging process that will then decide which of the many deserving Canadian community initiatives will be picked to receive aid from the Aviva Community Fund. All funding will be decided on December 5 of this year.

It is unfortunate to say, but part of the reason why affordable housing is so in need within Antigonish as well as why this initiative has been created, is due to the large presence of university students. With the number of students living in Antigonish who are able to afford the rent prices of local housing, local residents without such financial capabilities struggle to find adequate places to live. Awareness to this cause is significant, and as much as Antigonish is welcoming to students and their contributions to the community, students are still capable of impacting the lives of local residents, even if it is not intentional.