News release

Incentive Program to Encourage More Affordable Housing

The Province is partnering with homeowners to create more affordable housing, faster.

The new Secondary and Backyard Suite Incentive Program, announced today, October 19, will provide up to $25,000 in forgivable loans to eligible homeowners who create an affordable secondary or backyard suite in their home or on their property.

“Secondary or backyard suites are a proven way to get housing stock built fast and also contribute to things like rental income for the owner, supportive housing for an elderly family member or person with a disability, and freeing up housing in other areas,” said John Lohr, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. “We know to truly address the housing crisis we need more units, and we need them fast. We also know it can be expensive to build a suite. This program will help homeowners with some of the costs while creating hundreds of units for our most vulnerable Nova Scotians.”

To qualify for the pilot program, homeowners must:

  • provide housing at a maximum rental rate that is 80 per cent of average market rent in the area for a minimum of five years
  • not make suites available for short-term rentals while homeowners have an active loan under the program.

Tenants must be at least one of the following:

  • below the household income limits for their area
  • a parent, 65 years or older, of one of the homeowners
  • an adult child of a senior homeowner.

The landlord-tenant relationship will be subject to the Residential Tenancies Act.

This pilot program represents an $8-million investment over three years and is expected to result in more than 300 secondary or backyard suites during that period.


This program will enable seniors and other vulnerable Nova Scotians to access safe and affordable housing which allows them to remain in their communities surrounded by family and other supportive networks. These suites will allow seniors to age in place with support and will also contribute to addressing the housing crisis by freeing up housing stock and reducing the number of seniors needing to access long-term care in the future. Bill Berryman, Vice-Chair, Seniors Advisory Council of Nova Scotia; Chair, Seniors Advisory Council of Nova Scotia housing committee

Over the past year, the Town of Bridgewater has amended its land-use bylaws to allow secondary suites on residential properties, with the goal of increasing access to housing opportunities for our current and future residents. With the forgivable loan program that the Province has announced today, homeowners across Nova Scotia will now have incentive to make the most of their properties and, in the process, strengthen the market of available housing opportunities for all Nova Scotians. We are excited to learn that this program aligns perfectly with Bridgewater's proactive changes to zoning to allow secondary suites in select zones in our community – we can’t wait to see it in action. David Mitchell, Mayor, Town of Bridgewater

The Town of Truro recognizes that providing a variety of housing options in our existing neighbourhoods is a great way to create new housing in an affordable and sustainable way. This is why the town’s new community plan will permit backyard/garden suites and other types of accessory dwelling units in all residential zones. We welcome the Province’s announcement and hope that town residents will be able to take advantage of this funding and create new housing in our community. Bill Mills, Mayor, Town of Truro

Quick Facts:

  • secondary and backyard suites are self-contained dwelling units located within or on the same property as an existing house (or main dwelling unit) and are registered under the same title
  • contributions available under the program are up to 50 per cent of eligible costs, to a maximum of $25,000
  • the forgivable loan will help homeowners with things like construction materials and labour to create a legal secondary or backyard suite in their home or on their property
  • the pilot program will be evaluated regularly for efficiency and uptake

Additional Resources:

Mandate letter of the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing: