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

Worried about bats? Here’s what to do if you come across one in B.C.

Bat expert with the BC Community Bat Program urges caution around the small creatures

Sewage treatment plant in Esquimalt sees rising costs

A staff report to the CRD shows rising costs for wastewater treatment project

Vancouver Island mom says she will go to court overseas to try to get daughter back

Tasha Brown says her estranged wife abducted their daughter Kaydance Etchells in 2016

Sidney bank robbery suspect also sought in connect to Abbotsford robbery

Lucas Daryl Bradwell, 28, is known to frequent the Lower Mainland but is believed to be on Vancouver Island

VIDEO: Dashcam video captures moment Victoria cyclist struck

Police seeking cyclist captured in video

B.C. on right road with tougher ride-hailing driver rules, says expert

The provincial government is holding firm that ride-hailing drivers have a Class 4 licence

RCMP investigating alleged ‘sexual misconduct’ by cyclist on BCIT campus

BCIT said they were reviewing video evidence of the incident

New home cost dips in B.C.’s large urban centres

Victoria, Kelowna, Vancouver prices decline from last year

Graphic suicide scene edited out of ‘13 Reasons Why’ finale

Suicide prevention groups support the decision

Nine kittens and cats rescued after being locked in bins in northern B.C.: SPCA

SPCA says cats were starving, and matted with feces and urine

High-speed rail link would run from Vancouver to Seattle in under 1 hour: study

Annual ridership is projected to exceed three million

ICBC insurance renewals get more complicated this year

Crash history, driver risk prompt more reporting requirements

B.C. man dies from rabies after contact with Vancouver Island bat

Last known case of human rabies in B.C. was 16 years ago

Most Read