An affordable housing project that was supposed to transform a former high school into dozens of homes for families has been cancelled, as it failed to receive government support.

Kevin MacDonald leads a non-profit group that wanted to take the former St. Vincent’s High School and transform it into apartments and community space.

The group raised $9 million themselves, but failed to get the final $3 million from federal authorities.

"All we want to do is bring people back and give them new affordable housing,” says MacDonald. “The price, I understand it's expensive, but it's not what it's costing it's what it's doing."

MacDonald says the project would have revitalized the neighbourhood. Civic leaders are also disappointed.

"The Saint John area typically has over 1,000 families on a wait list for affordable New Brunswick housing, so projects like this, they're needed," says Saint John councillor John MacKenzie.

Phyllis Beckingham works at the Romero House Mobile Kitchen and knows first-hand how important affordable housing is to the city.

"Unfortunately they don't live in good places. A lot of the guys and girls I talk to say they're on the list. They've been on the list for a long time, but there's just not enough housing," says Beckingham.

As for the century-old St. Vincent’s High School that has been vacant for 15 years, the future remains unclear.

“To tear it down is over $1 million, to take that to a landfill," says MacDonald.

With files from CTV Atlantic’s Mike Cameron.