The British Columbia government is investing $231-million to build more than 1,100 new affordable homes for Indigenous residents in communities across the province.
The first set of homes selected through a new Indigenous housing fund includes nearly 780 off-reserve homes and close to 370 homes on-reserve, making the province the first to invest in on-reserve housing, the government said in a news release.
Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister Selina Robinson made the announcement Saturday on the Katzie First Nation reserve in Pitt Meadows, which is receiving $7.8-million for 39 units of on-reserve housing for youth, elders and families.
Katzie Chief Grace Leon Cunningham said she’s extremely grateful that the community’s housing project was approved.
“The needs identified by our community members both off- and on-reserve are significant and the vision of the supportive living model that was created is a stepping stone to not just housing, but toward healing,” she said in a statement.
“It is a monumental gift for our community that will have significant impact for generations to come.”
The government said 1,143 new homes will be built over the next two to four years as part of a 10-year, $550-million commitment to build 1,750 new social housing units for Indigenous residents.
Some 148 homes will be in the province’s Interior, 288 in the North, 244 in the Fraser region, 269 in the Vancouver area and 194 on Vancouver Island.
BC Housing will work with Indigenous non-profit housing providers and First Nations to finalize the projects over the next few months, and a second proposal call is anticipated for spring 2020, the government said.
The announcement received praise from groups representing First Nations but they also cautioned that more work must be done.
“The housing situation for many B.C. First Nations communities has been crippled by decades of federal government funding policies and models that haven’t kept up with our needs, nor with economic fluctuations,” said Regional Chief Terry Teegee of the B.C. Assembly of First Nations in a statement.
“This provincial funding will begin to make a difference, but we still have a long way to go to ensure an adequate supply and good-quality housing in our fast-growing communities. We will continue to work with both levels of government to reverse a crisis that has become a monumental challenge.”