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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Collaborative effort removes salmon farms from BC coast

The first farms to be removed were those in closest to the Ahta and Viner Rivers.

North Island Concert Society: Marc Atkinson Trio coming to the Civic Centre

The concert takes place at 7:30 p.m. on Jan. 18 at the Port Hardy Civic Centre.

MP Blaney welcomes feedback on medical assistance in dying legislation

Over the next two weeks the Government of Canada is holding consultations… Continue reading

Picture perfect: Get the most from your wedding photography

Stop by the Comox Community Centre on Jan. 26 from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.!

VIDEO: North Island Atom Eagles run over Victoria Racquet Club B2 Kings

“This team has come so far this year, from a tough time in tiering to where we are now”

Kids across Canada more at risk of hospitalization from flu this season: doctor

Dr. Theresa Tam said influenza B does not usually peak until February or later

BC Ferries hybrid ships arrive in Victoria on Saturday

The battery-operated vessels will take over smaller routes

Theft victim confronts suspects with baseball bat on Vancouver Island

RCMP in Nanaimo seek to identify of two people alleged to have used a stolen credit card

Closed mills, housing surge support a positive forecast for lumber industries

B.C. lumber producers have closed mills accounting for 18% of province’s capacity, RBC report says

Good Samaritan pays part of rent for B.C. woman facing eviction in can-collecting dispute

Zora Hlevnjak, 76, supplements her pension by collecting cans and receiving public donations

Kelowna’s ‘Baby Mary’ finds biological parents after more than 30 years

Geneologist and DNA test helped her connect with her biological parents

Kelowna hotel to award couples for baby-making with Nooner deal

The deal includes a free stay every Valentine’s Day for the next 18 years

Clerk bruised, traumatized after armed robbery at Nanaimo liquor store

Few details on male suspect in Wednesday incident, says Nanaimo RCMP

One last blast of winter tonight for parts of the Island before temperatures on the rise

A snowfall warning is in effect Friday including east Vancouver Island.

Most Read