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A landlord hiked rents again and again. Canada’s housing agency rewarded him every time

Federal housing minister tasked with stopping renovictions, but his own agency has been playing a role in them

In the year after the final tenants living in a rundown pair of apartment buildings on Victoria Road in Dartmouth, N.S., left for good, many of their units have been transformed with granite countertops, stainless steel appliances and subway tiled kitchens.

Those renovations have also seen advertised rents double, far beyond the reach of former residents like Edward Greek, a 58-year-old on social assistance who lived for six years in a $550-a-month bachelor unit.
Since his eviction in late 2020, he said he has stayed in 10 different places, including a spell at a homeless shelter and at three different hospitals due to medical issues.

“I’ve been shuffled around, shuffled around, shuffled around,” he said. “It was very hard on me.”

It is one of the latest in a string of so-called renovictions in the Halifax area by Adam Barrett, the 36-year-old head of BlackBay Real Estate Group Inc. There’s indications it’s earned him a big payday. After refinancing the Victoria Road properties, mortgage documents suggest one of his companies has pulled out upward of $1 million in profit.

But listed in those records is another notable piece — one that’s received little public attention in the debate around the escalating rental crisis in parts of Canada. Each time one of more than a dozen BlackBay apartment buildings has been renovated and rented out at much higher rates, the company has been rewarded by a federal Crown corporation whose stated goal is to “make housing affordable for everyone in Canada.” …[Read More]