nsA Housing Nova Scotia program is returning to Amherst this summer, even though it failed to garner much public participation last year.
The Neighbourhood Spruce Up program was available last summer in several areas of Amherst, but it failed to attract many applications – something that has baffled officials with both the Empowering Beyond Barriers committee and Housing Nova Scotia.
“We’re really surprised that not many people took part in the program, we’re not sure what happened because members of our committee went door-to-door last year knocking on people’s doors,” Empowering Beyond Barriers member Veronica Richards said. “For some reason, a lot of people didn’t trust it, they thought there was a catch. It’s hard to believe, but the program offers grants to fix the outside of your home and covers things like new windows.”
Housing Nova Scotia program manager Anne Baxter said there were only four out of approximately 100 households that participated in the residential program. This year, there’ll be an additional 30 or so households eligible.
She admitted to being baffled by the lack of applications and agreed it may have had something to do with distrust of government. She has also heard there was difficulty getting contractors to do the small jobs.
The Neighbourhood Spruce Up program offers grants of up to $3,000 for minor exterior property improvements for homeowners and $2,000 for unit for landlords in the designated areas. Landlords must match the grant.
“It’s about creating pride in neighbourhoods,” Baxter said. “Things like the front porch and the front of your home sort of reflects how you feel about your town. We’re hoping we can get people to participate and take advantage of the program because if everyone’s property looks good it says so much about the level of pride they have about the community. Once you make it look good you tend to want to work to make it stay good.”
The program covers the same areas as last year, including both sides of LaPlanche and Lawrence Street, Copp Avenue, Rambler and Erncliffe Street, Pearl Place, Copp Lane, Victoria Street East, Electric, Prince Arthur, Church, Princess, and King Street as well as Maple Avenue and Crescent Avenue.
Added this year are portions of Albion Street, Fullerton Street, Douglas Avenue, Abbott Street and Spring Street.
The only conditions are residents must own and occupy the home as their principle residence. The home must be at least 30 years old, you must have lived in it for at least one year, the home can’t have any liens or judgments against it and you must intend to continue living in your home.
Applicants must have a total annual household income of $55,159 or less.
Baxter said the program’s application deadline has been extended to July 31 because of the provincial election campaign.
She said any property improvement visible from the street is eligible, adding things like driveways and walkways, siding, painting, eaves, fencing, landscaping, lighting and roofing are among the items covered by the program.
For more information on this program or other housing programs go to www.housingns.ca or call 902-667-1161.