Over 1,100 homes to be built in communities across province
By Roshni Riar, Staff Writer
Over the next two to four years, 26 communities across BC will see the construction of 1,143 units of affordable Indigenous housing, both on and off reserve land.
The development of these new homes is part of a 10-year, $550-million investment to provide 1,750 affordable homes to Indigenous communities across the province, as outlined in the BC government’s 30-point plan for housing affordability published in the 2018 BC Budget.
The 30-point plan also included a focus on student housing for universities and colleges. This housing program will cost $450 million to create and the project’s aim is to construct 5,000 new spaces.
Selina Robinson, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, said in the foreword of the 30-point plan that “these actions represent the first step on the path to reaching our goal of a province where everyone has the secure, safe, and affordable home they need.”
A November 24 press release revealed that the province is committing $231 million towards the construction of the 1,143 announced homes. $76 million will be allocated to build 367 on-reserve housing units, . The remaining $155 million will go to the construction of 776 off-reserve housing units.
The November 24 press release also gave a list of where these projects will be built. Cranbrook, Kelowna, Surrey, Bella Bella, and many more cities and towns throughout the province were listed.
Robinson made the announcement in Pitt Meadows on the Katzie First Nation reserve, which will see $7.8 million invested into 39 on-reserve housing units.
Chief Grace Leon Cunningham of the Katzie First Nation expressed his gratitude for the approved housing and looked at the opportunity surrounding the incoming affordable homes as part of a path toward healing.
“[The homes are] a monumental gift for our community that will have significant impact for generations to come,” Chief Cunningham said, thanking Robinson and BC Housing for the support.
Robinson stated the current housing situation for Indigenous individuals and communities is unacceptable.
“Through these new homes, [BC Housing is] working together with First Nations, the Aboriginal Housing Management Association, and the Indigenous housing providers to take an important step toward addressing this critical need in every corner of the province,” Robinson said.
Scott Fraser, Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation also shared his thoughts in the November 24 press release.
“Long-term, stable housing is critical for keeping Indigenous families together and their communities thriving,” he said. “This housing project is exceptional news for Indigenous peoples who have faced extraordinary housing challenges that are out of proportion compared to other Canadians.”
The press release stated that BC Housing will work together with First Nations and various Indigenous non-profit housing providers to solidify the proposed projects in the coming months, with a second proposal slated for release in spring 2020.