The First Nations Housing and Infrastructure Council of BC is in charge of setting up a new housing authority. (First Nations Housing & Infrastructure Council BC Facebook)

A dedicated B.C. First Nations housing authority moves ahead

Agency will take over federal responsibility to develop and handle on- and off-reserve housing

A dedicated housing authority for First Nations in B.C. is closer to becoming a reality.

First Nations and representatives of the provincial and federal governments met at a two-day forum in Richmond earlier this month to set out the parameters of an agency that would develop and handle housing programs in B.C.

The First Nations Housing and Infrastructure Council of BC is leading the effort and hosted the forum, which touched on governance, finances, and the integration of on- and off-reserve housing.

The end goal is for the council to take over leadership from the federal government for the first housing authority of its kind in Canada.

“Nothing against the government, but when they run this, they are doing what they think our community needs,” council director Garry Merkel told Black Press Media. “When they don’t do it right and when they make mistakes, they don’t feel from those mistakes, they don’t learn from those mistakes and they don’t grow from them.”

A major issue facing people living on reserves is overcrowding. In 2013, Statistics Canada found that 13 per cent of on-reserve and six per cent of off-reserve B.C. First Nations people lived in crowded homes, while one in five lived in homes in need of major repairs.

In its 2019 budget, the B.C. government allocated $550 million over 10 years for the construction of 1,750 affordable housing units both on- and off-reserve.

On Tuesday, Ottawa announced it would spend $638 million on housing for Indigenous people living in cities and urban areas as part of its budget, though advocates say that won’t provide enough money or address the basic causes of Indigenous homelessness.

READ MORE: ʔaq̓am community set to break ground on new health and wellness centre

The authority is still in the developing stages, but Merkel said they can look to the BC First Nations Health Authority – something that took 10 years to create.

“We have a rough process to work with, and so we can save a lot of time on things they had to figure out.”

The transfer of the services to the new authority will be implemented in stages. Merkel hopes to begin it in two fiscal years.

– with a file from The Canadian Press



joti.grewal@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Student artwork on display in ‘Well Lit’ installation

Thoughtful Place Design, 49th Parallel, and Festival of Lights came together to showcase student art

Ladysmith set to star in new Syfy series: Resident Alien

Ladysmith will play the role of Patience, Colorado in the series

Ladysmith wins ‘Brownie’ Reach Out award for communication of Waterfront Plan

The Town of Ladysmith has received national recognition for the successful public… Continue reading

Nanaimo Regional General Hospital raising funds for new surgical suite

The new suite will reduce endoscopy wait times for residents from Ladysmith to Bowser

Belair Street development ready for next steps following public hearing

Fred Green’s Belair Street development cleared another hurdle at a Town of Ladysmith public hearing

VIDEO: Boys help rescue Cariboo bear cub

The cub, weighing just 24lbs, has been taken to wildlife sanctuary in Northwest B.C. for the winter

‘Things haven’t changed enough:’ Ecole Polytechnique anniversary prompts reflection

Fourteen women were fatally shot by a gunman at the Montreal school on Dec. 6, 1989

Bear raids freezer, gorges on Island family’s Christmas baking

Hungry bruin virtually ignored meat and fish, focused, instead, on the sweets

B.C. pharmaceutical company’s stocks double in value after successful lupus drug trial

More than 40 per cent of patients using voclosporin saw improvements in kidney function

Second warning on romaine lettuce from California region as another E. coli case reported

Two cases of E. coli have been reported in relation to the illness in the U.S.

Residents in B.C. city could face 133% tax hike in ‘worst case’ lawsuit outcome: report

An average home could see a tax increase of $2,164 in one year

B.C. Transit finds 28 used fareboxes online, saves $300,000

‘Someone joked maybe we can buy used fareboxes on eBay,’ CEO says

Many of Canada’s working poor can’t afford lawyers, don’t qualify for legal aid

One lawyer says many people earn too much to qualify for legal aid, but not enough to really live on

Economy lost 71,200 jobs in November, unemployment rate climbs to 5.9%

Jobless rate is at its highest since August 2018, when it hit 6%

Most Read